The people of Toronto have questions - lots of them - following Premier Doug Ford's announcement Tuesday afternoon of even more public health restrictions aimed at slowing the exponential spread of COVID-19.
The stay-at-home order, which takes effect on Thursday at 12:01 a.m., would require everyone to stay home except for essential reasons such as groceries, health care or exercise.
Schools in Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York Region and Hamilton will not resume in-person classes until February 10, with David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, to review other regions by next week.
There are now 1,700 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, including 385 in intensive care and more than 260 of those on a ventilator.
All non-essential retail stores are now restricted to operating hours no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 8 p.m.
The government says non-essential construction, including below-grade projects, will be limited.
The NDP is calling for Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams to attend the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight on Tuesday to explain if and why he has recommended delay after delay in taking action.
When asked how this differs from a curfew, which Quebec implemented last week to ensure people stay home from 8 pm to 5 am, Ford responded, "I've never been in favour of a curfew, and I'll tell you why I've never been in favour of a curfew; that's a hard, hard lockdown".
Under the emergency orders, provincial and local police, bylaw officers and provincial workplace inspectors will be empowered to issue tickets to people not wearing masks indoors and disperse crowds of more than five people, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person instruction by January 20, 2021, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling. Schools in Northern Ontario will continue to be open for in-person learning.
When in-person learning returns, masks will be required outdoors.
Echoing repeated calls from municipalities and other public-health experts, he said any new lockdown measures must also come with new supports for low-paid essential workers, so they no longer feel they must choose between going to work when they might have some symptoms or self-isolating and getting a COVID-19 test but missing a paycheque.
By January 20, the provincial Chief Medical Officer Health will make recommendations for schools in the remaining regions.
"Protecting our students, staff and their families is our top priority, and these additional measures build on our comprehensive plan to reopen schools and keep young children in child care safe".
"We know that we can't beat COVID until we stop workplace transmission".
In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks.