TORONTO -- Ontarians have received emergency alerts on their cellphones, radios and televisions telling them to stay home.

The emergency message on the province's stay-at-home order that took effect today was sent by the Ministry of the Solicitor General through the province's Alert Ready broadcast system.

The message asks people to only leave their homes for essential purposes such as food, healthcare, exercise or work.

It is the latest attempt to communicate new public health measures that came into effect today as COVID-19 case counts surge.

The province used a similar emergency alert in January to communicate the start of a stay-at-home order when COVID-19 cases spiked at that time.

Premier Doug Ford announced the latest stay-at-home order on Wednesday, saying it was prompted by a surge in cases driven by more infectious variants.

Stores that sell goods such as groceries, cleaning supplies and pharmacy products can remain open but only to sell essential items.

Non-essential retail can open for curbside pickup or delivery only.

The province is declaring the third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic to invoke the new measures.

Ontario is reporting 3,295 new cases of COVID-19 today and 19 more deaths linked to the virus.

READ MORE: Answers to top questions about Ontario's new stay-at-home order

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 933 new cases in Toronto, 649 in Peel Region, and 386 in York Region.

She also say there are 165 new cases in Durham Region and 160 in Ottawa.

More than 63,800 tests were completed since the last report.

There are 1,417 people hospitalized in Ontario because of COVID-19, with 525 in intensive care and 318 on a ventilator.

Ontario says that 108,563 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Wednesday's report.

It's the second straight day more than 100,000 vaccines have been given out in the province.

A total of 2,834,784 vaccine doses have been given in Ontario so far.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.