The Ontario government is extending the province-wide stay-at-home order until at least Wednesday, June 2, 2021. According to the government, all Public Health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect.
A second piece of information to note from today’s announcement is the expansion of the Pfizer vaccine administration to include youth between the ages of 12 and 17. This will begin the week of Monday, May 31, 2021, as vaccine supply allows.
“While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford. “We must stay vigilant to ensure our ICU numbers stay down and our hospital capacity is protected. If we stay the course for the next two weeks, and continue vaccinating record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves.”
This past week (May 2 to 8), the government said provincial cases rate decreased by 14.8 per cent, with the positivity rate also decreasing to 7.7 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent the previous week. From May 5 to 12, the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care has decreased from 877 to 776.
Despite the improvements across the province overall, key indicators remain high and more time is required before the province can safely lift the Stay-at-Home Order, the Ontario government said in a media release dated Thursday, May 13, 2021. From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and per cent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two.
Dr. Keiran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health spoke about our regional numbers last week, saying “The threat remains high, please stay within your household. The more social contacts you have, the higher your personal risk of getting COVID-19.” Locally we are experiencing heightened COVID-19 case numbers due in part to an outbreak at a construction site in Kingston’s west end.
The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. The City of Kingston echoed these extended restrictions as well:
- Restricting the use of some recreational amenities (e.g. golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, etc.)
- Prohibiting all indoor and outdoor gatherings for members outside of the same household, except for persons living alone who may be able to join another household.
- Shutting down non-essential construction, warehouses and manufacturing.
- Tightening capacity of indoor events including those in places of worship, weddings and funerals.
- Limiting travel between provinces and seeking further international border restrictions.
The City also said some outdoor recreation amenities including public trails and parks remain open for safe enjoyment and exercise, but are restricted to members of the same household only. Any person who enters or uses an outdoor recreation amenity must maintain a two-metre physical distance from others (excluding members of the same household).
The province confirmed that all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning at this time. According to the release, Ontario is providing more than $2 billion in new supports to advance and protect public education for the 2021-22 school year. The support includes more than $1.6 billion in resources to respond to COVID-19, with an $85.5 million commitment to support learning recovery and renewal in response to the ongoing pandemic in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
Beginning the week of Monday, May 31, 2021, youth in Ontario between 12 and 17 years of age and their family members who have not received a vaccine will be eligible to book an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including at special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21, the provincial government detailed.
“Expanding vaccines to youth 12 and up will bring us one step closer to normalcy for our students,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are focused on delivering a safe, stable, and well-resourced learning experience with an additional $1.6-billion in resources to protect students and school communities in the 2021-22 school year.”
The province will work with Public Health units to offer both doses of vaccine to youth aged 12 to 17 by the end of August, in collaboration with school boards and other partners, according to the release. The rollout will be informed by the work of the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table and will provide access through multiple channels to support vaccinating this group, including mass vaccination clinics, community or school pop-ups, and pharmacies.
“Despite the progress we have made in recent weeks in our fight against this virus, we all must remain vigilant, as we are not yet at the point where we can safely exit the Stay-at-Home Order, as our health system remains under significant strain,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By continuing to strictly follow all measures, we can further reduce transmission of the virus, safeguard hospital and public health capacity, and save lives.”