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Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed media from Queen's Park on Tuesday, providing updates to his province's response to the ongoing health crisis. Specifically, Ford declared a state of emergency in the province, effective immediately.
Additionally, effective Thursday, a stay at home order mandating all within Ontario to stay inside except for essential purposes, will be initiated. Businesses are being asked to require employees work from home, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to no higher than five. These measures will be in place until February 11.
Ford also announced that school closures would be extended in certain regions across the province: "Schools in Windsor-Essex, Peel, Toronto, York, and Hamilton will remain closed for in-person learning until February 10. By January 20, the chief medical officer of health will provide recommendations for the remaining regions," said Ford.
Ford warned that there will be "some really dark days ahead," telling Ontarians to stay home to protect the health care system, which he said is "on the brink of collapse."
"We're at levels we've never seen before," said Ford. "Cases and deaths are at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic, and community spread continues to escalate."
Ford warned that hospital ICUs could be overwhelmed by the first week of February.
Ford also acknowledged the situation at Ontario big-box retailers, with the premier saying that he's seen the "crazy lines."
"We need more enforcement, so we'll be starting an inspection blitz of big box stores in the coming days. If we find any issues, there'll be consequences. We'll come down hard on these big box stores if we have to," the premier said.
Ontario reported 2,903 new coronavirus cases today, including 8 cases of UK variant.