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Ontario government continues public health orders into January

Thursday, December 10, 2020 @ 1:30 PM | By John Schofield

The Ontario government is extending public health orders currently in force until Jan. 20, 2021.

“As we prepare to implement a safe and effective immunization program,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a Dec. 10 news release, “extending these orders will ensure tools remain in place to address urgent public health situations until all Ontarians can be vaccinated.”

The orders are in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) and are listed on the government of Ontario website.

Ontario recorded a single-day high of 1,983 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 10, including 515 in Peel Region, 496 in Toronto, 208 in York Region and 112 in Windsor-Essex. The province also recorded 35 more deaths linked to the illness, bringing the official total to 3,871.

The government noted that, in consultation with its public health experts, it is continuing to shift areas to higher levels of public health restrictions under its COVID-19 response framework. In its latest moves, the London-Middlesex and Thunder Bay areas were shifted to Orange-Restrict from Yellow-Protect effective Dec. 7 at 12:01 a.m., while the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes area was moved to Yellow-Protect from Green-Prevent.

The government also amended O. Reg 82/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 1) under the ROA to permit indoor farmer’s markets that primarily sell groceries, to be open in lockdown areas. The amendments also increase the limit on the number of people permitted in a post-secondary instructional space at any one time for in-person instruction or in-person exams from 10 to 50 people for certain programs critical to supporting the health-care workforce, as set out in the order.

The government of Premier Doug Ford adjourned the fall session of the legislature on Dec. 8, two days earlier than originally scheduled. The winter session is slated to start on Feb. 16. In a Dec. 8 news release, the government commended itself on its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic so far, including the passage of six emergency COVID-19 bills.

But the NDP Official Opposition criticized the government for shutting down the legislature and advancing its own agenda under cover of the pandemic, including the weakening of protections for environmentally sensitive land.

“Ford is calling it quits at the height of the pandemic,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a Dec. 8 news release. “MPPs should be staying at the legislature and working to use the $12 billion in COVID funding Doug Ford has been withholding from the people of Ontario.

“Instead, all Doug Ford managed to accomplish this session was helping his ultra-wealthy developer pals pave over environmentally sensitive lands, and repaying an IOU that Doug Ford owed infamous bigot Charles McVety,” she added, referring to the passage of Bill 218, which allows Toronto-based Canada Christian College to grant arts and science degrees pending a review by a provincial agency.

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