Since the 2019 novel coronavirus first hit Torontoin late January, each passing day has brought with it new concerns about healthcare systems, economies, vulnerable populations and the willingness of all residents to help slow the outbreak down.
Few questions have been asked, however, as much as “when will life go back to normal?”
Government leaders don’t yet have the answer. This period of intense social distancing will continue until public health officials are confident that we’ve “flattened the curve” enough to save many lives, meaning that restaurants, bars, schools, entertainment facilities, childcare centres, libraries, gyms, provincial parks, and anything else deemed “non-essential” are closed until further notice.
When Premier Doug Ford issued a state of emergency for the province on March 17, Ontarians were told that the declaration would remain in effect for at least two weeks.
Those two weeks are up tomorrow, but the emergency declaration will continue.
Ford told reporters at Queen’s Park today that his order would be extended for another two weeks beginning March 31, and for another two weeks after that if necessary.
“We’ll be extending it — it goes in two weeks at a time and we will be extending that,” said Ford during a press conference this afternoon when asked about the emergency declaration.
“It goes two weeks, that’s the way the system is set up,” he explained. “It goes two weeks at a time so we’ll be renewing that.”
Ford also stated during the press conference that “nothing is off the table” in terms of enforcing orders. Should people continue to gather in groups of more than five or otherwise violate social distancing recommendations, the province is ready to implement harsher restrictions.
“We’re prepared to take further action if we do not see the spread of this virus slow down in the coming days,” said Ford.
“The hard truth is, the more time we have, the more lives we can save.”
As of Monday, Ontario was reporting 1,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Twenty-three people have died within the province to date as a result of contracting the deadly virus, and 33,106 have now died worldwide.
“We can’t do this without your full support. Every day we have stood here and told you how you can stop the spread of this virus,” pleaded Ford of Ontarians during Monday’s press conference.
“If you can, please, please stay home.”