Ontario extends state of emergency by four weeks
TORONTO -- Ontario has extended the state of emergency an additional four weeks as the province recorded another concerning spike in new COVID-19 infections.
The government voted to extend the state of emergency until June 30 at Queen's Park on Tuesday after debating the issue for several hours.
Included under the province’s state of emergency are a number of emergency orders. These orders currently ban social gatherings of more than five people who are not from the same household.
They also prohibit restaurants and bars from opening unless they are providing takeout or delivery.
"The fight is not over," Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones said at Queen's Park on Tuesday. "I look forward to the day when all emergency orders can be lifted ... that day is coming, speaker, but we're not there yet."
"We are acknowledging the adjustment and personal sacrifices must be continued to be made for a little bit longer."
“We must not lose sight of what we are fighting for.”
Meanwhile, Independent legislator Randy Hillier said he would vote against the measure on Tuesday, saying it gives the government too much authority.
Earlier in the day, Hillier greeted a small group of protesters outside Queen’s Park arguing against extending the province’s emergency measures. The group did not adhere to physical distancing restrictions and most were not wearing masks.
“There is no emerging crisis,” Hillier told the protesters. “There is no emergency. We’ve been into this now for 13 weeks, there is nothing emerging today that we don’t already know.”
Premier Doug Ford said it was “disappointing” Hillier joined the group, adding that “he should have known better.”
“I’m shocked he would go out there,” Ford said. “That’s unfortunate.”
The province first declared a state of emergency on March 17 as the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continued to climb. It has been extended multiple times during the pandemic.
Ford says extension of state of emergency won’t slow down reopening
On May 19, Ontario launched the first stage of the province’s reopening. This allowed for a number of businesses to reopen, including those with a street-front entrance, if strict guidelines were followed to ensure customer and employee safety.
Ford told reporters on Tuesday that extending the province’s state of emergency does not affect the province’s reopening plan “whatsoever.”
“We’re going to move forward with reopening,” Ford said. “We’re working day-in and day-out.”
“We have to reopen safety and I understand the problems these businesses are going through but we are going as quickly as possible.”
“No one wants to get the economy going more than I do. Once we start, we are going to go full steam ahead.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Monday the province "still needs to go some distance" before moving to stage two of the reopening plan, which would include the reopening of more businesses across the province.
The province was also hoping to make an announcement on allowing larger social gatherings last month but later said that was delayed due to a spike in cases.
On March 17, when the state of emergency began, there were 190 cases of COVID-19 in the province. On Tuesday, the province recorded another spike in COVID-19 cases. Health officials recorded 446 new infections, bringing the provincial total to 28,709.