Statement from Warden Bob Crate on provincial shutdown — RELEASE

By Canadian Press	
	 		Officials seek to convince skeptical public of vaccine safety

By Canadian Press Officials seek to convince skeptical public of vaccine safety

The shutdown was implemented as a result of rising COVID-19 variant cases and a record-breaking number of admissions to the intensive care unit as a result of the disease. "It's spreading far more quickly than it was before and we can not vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave, this is the challenge of the new variants". "Even if we had unlimited ICU capacity, allowing these (variants of concern) to spread exponentially is unethical". The provincial government's scientific advisors are expected to release new modeling this morning showing the expected impact of the pandemic's third wave over the next few weeks, according to CBC Canada.

"We're now fighting a new enemy".

Six public health regions, including Toronto's and Hamilton's, are now in the grey "lockdown" zone of the province's colour-coded system. They're already under similar restrictions to the ones announced for the rest of the province on Thursday, but Ford is calling the new measures a "shutdown". Outdoor dining, including on patios, is also banned across the province.

Big box stores are limited to 25 per cent capacity and while businesses like grocery stores are limited to 50 per cent capacity. This includes prohibiting all indoor organized public gatherings and limiting outdoor gatherings to a five-person maximum, except for gathering with members of the same household.

Capacity at weddings, funerals, and other religious services will be limited to 15 per cent capacity indoors.

Schools remain open because, the government says, they are crucial to students' mental health.

"We are not going to be producing a stay at home order because we saw that last time that it had tremendous ill effect on both children and adults, and especially with the warmer weather coming", said Elliott.

Premier Doug Ford said the rapidly spreading coronavirus variants are to blame.

As of yesterday, there are now 421 patients in ICU across the province, a record during the pandemic.

Pfizer vaccine offers '100% protection against South African variant'
Additionally, the shot was 95% effective at preventing severe CovidD-19, as defined by the US Food and Drug Administration. On Wednesday, the companies said a small trial of volunteers aged12 to 15 showed 100% efficacy in that age group.

However, the province-wide emergency brake announced on Thursday - which the province is not calling a "lockdown" - does not include a stay-at-home order.

Brown says the spread of the variants threatens the province's ICU admissions.

He said hospitalizations in Ontario have surged by almost 42 per cent in the last two weeks. Younger people are ending up in the hospital.

Starting Saturday, another 350 pharmacies across the province will begin offering the vaccine, which brings the total pharmacies across the province included in the vaccination rollout plan to 700.

All 34 public-health regions went into the grey zone on December 26, followed by a provincewide stay-at-home order on January 14 that suspended the colour-coded system.

As of midnight, Ontario entered a month-long provincewide shutdown that will see restaurants shuttered and gatherings further restricted.

"What we have done right now is just decide that somehow they will be okay, fend for themselves, it's unacceptable. The public health measures fall short of what many experts are calling for".

The announcement of a third shutdown comes as Ontario reported 421 patients in ICUs on Wednesday, which is the highest number of critical care patients since the beginning of the pandemic. It was copy-edited after that.

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