In a vote that sends the message to Ontarians that the pandemic is far from over, the Ontario Legislature voted to extend the provincial state of emergency until the end of June. According to the Government of Ontario, this action comes as a recommendation of the medical officer of health, and it will allow them to continue to respond to the pandemic in a “measured and responsible way.”
“Extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency will allow us to safely and gradually reopen the province, while we continue to use every resource at our disposal to battle this deadly virus,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement. “We are not out of the woods yet, so it is critical that we exercise caution to keep everyone safe, including protecting our most vulnerable citizens in long-term care homes, retirement homes and group homes.”
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the government can only renew the state of emergency on its own a few weeks at a time, but an act of the Legislature can extend the expiry of the order beyond that. Now that the state of emergency’s been extended, the redeployment of frontline staff and staff at public health units will be allowed to continue, as will preventing long term care staff from working at more than one home, and measures against price gouging.
At the press conference today, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the province has “some distance to go” before initiating Stage 2 of the reopening of the economy under the government’s three-stage plan adding, “We need to take a careful and measured approach to any further opening up of the economy.” Ontario initiated Stage 1 on May 19.
Last week, Ford said that he might consider regional economic re-openings in the future as public health authorities measure more sever outbreaks of COVID-19 in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area when compared to other parts of the province, but nothing firm has been announced.
With Ontario extending the state of emergency until June 30, it means that the City of Guelph will also be observing a state of emergency until the end of the month. Back in April, the City of Guelph said that they will remain closed following the guidance of the Province.
“We all want to get out and play in Guelph parks and recreation centres and get back to doing ‘normal’ Spring things. But now is not normal, the hard part is not over,” said Chief Administrative Officer Scott Stewart in a statement. “This is still an emergency, and we still need your support and cooperation to keep your families, your neighbours and your community healthy.”
Last week, the City of Guelph announced that all events and programming at City facilities will remain closed until September 8.