CHESTERVILLE – The province of Ontario is sounding the alarm that it may be on the cusp of losing its battle with the COVID-19 virus.

The solution seems to be a simple one. Everyone is asked to stay put, not go outside to meet with large groups of people or to work unless it is essential.

On Tues., Jan. 12 the province declared a second emergency.

Premier Doug Ford said, “The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences.”

To combat that situation Ford imposed a stay-at-home order. He said, “By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

Essential trips, medical appointments and picking up groceries are about the only things people will be allowed to do until the emergency is over.

The new rules will come into effect on Thurs., Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m.

All businesses must find a way that their employees are able to work from home.

The logic behind the new rules is that restricting people from coming into contact with others may be the only way to slow the spread of the virus down giving the vaccine rollout time to have an effect.

The earlier province-wide shut down after Christmas did little to hold back the number of people contracting the virus.

The increase in the number of cases, if allowed to continue, could easily overwhelm hospitals forcing them to reallocate their normal hospital services to dealing with COVID-19 patients.

The new measures are not all that different from past ones.

Outdoor and public meetings are restricted to just five people. Wearing a mask indoors is mandatory when in a place of business or when it is not possible to practice social distancing. All non-essential businesses will have a curfew of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The restrictions do not apply to stores that sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery, though delivery services must follow the same curfew restrictions. Non-essential construction is restricted, including below-grade construction.

In an attempt to keep abreast of COVID-19 infections:

The province will provide up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week.

There will be additional tests for schools and long-term care facilities.

To back up the new restrictions, Premier Ford has given all Ontario law enforcement authorities including the OPP the power to hand out tickets.

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