Dramatic new restrictions announced as Ford tightens lockdown rules in bid to stop COVID

Ford spring lockdown 2021 Photo credit: YouTube / Ontario Premier's Office

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his government announced the most extreme lockdown measures yet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic today. They include a wide-ranging series of new restrictions that will extend police power and further restrict movements of Ontario residents.

Ford said Ontario will extend its stay-at-home order to a total of six weeks – until May 20 – in a bid to stop fast-rising COVID-19 cases in the province.

“I’ve never shied away from telling you the brutal, honest truth,” Ford explained. “We’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccines … We’re on our heels.” 

Ford also said that non-essential construction will be halted and outdoor facilities golf, playgrounds, tennis, outdoor soccer, and camping will be restricted. 

Outdoor gatherings outside of a person’s household with non-household members are prohibited. The new rules become effective 12:01 am on Saturday.

Ford saaid the new restrictions are necessary because the province is losing the battle in the fight against the pandemic as new variants spread like wildfire so drastic measures are needed.

There will be restrictions on province-to-province travel, and limits to air travel into Ontario. Checkpoints at provincial borders with Quebec and Manitoba will be set up.

Essential businesses will be required to limit capacity to 25 per cent.

Starting 12:01 a.m. Monday, capacity at religious services, weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 people. 

Police authority will be extended to allow police officers to ask anyone outside their residence to state their purpose for leaving home and provide their address. That includes the ability to stop vehicles. Tickets can be issued for violations up to $750. 

Ford and his government stopped short of issuing a curfew.

Revised modelling predicts Ontario could see more than 10,000 cases per day by the end of May with current measures in place.

Modelling shows a six-week stay-at-home order with an average of 100,000 vaccinations per day can halt the spread of the coronavirus.