The Ford government is extending Ontario’s emergency declaration until at least April 23, and adding several new measures to ban camping on Crown land and make it easier for hospitals to surge capacity.

The declaration under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, first issued March 17, was until now set to end on April 14.

The extension was agreed to by Ford’s cabinet on Thursday evening and signed into effect by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

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It banned gatherings of more than five people, operation of a raft of non-essential businesses and closed all schools and licensed daycares, among a raft of other measures enacted to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 200 people in the province so far.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday afternoon, Ford said health officials were anticipating some sort of “spike” in cases over the next two weeks, prompting him to ask cabinet to extend the measures.

“We don’t know where we are going to be in the next two weeks – we are expecting a spike over the next two weeks and we don’t want to put our kids in harm’s way,” Ford said, referring to the need to keep schools closed.

He said any future decision on when to loosen the restrictions would be made “with full communication” to all stakeholders.

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The extension also includes relaxed rules to allow hospitals and other health facilities to erect temporary structures like tents to rapidly increase their capacity to treat patients.

The declaration also now allows hospitals to use space in retirement homes to treat patients if necessary.

Also the province has banned camping on Crown land retroactive to April 9.

All the new measures were enacted on the advice of Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams, the province says.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is also considering a provincial ban on long-term care and retirement home workers from completing work in multiple facilities, as a means to slow the spread of the virus between homes.

So far, the City of Toronto has banned healthcare workers from working in multiple long-term care homes.