The Province of Ontario is ordering people to stay at home starting Thursday due to rising rates of COVID-19.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Jan. 12, declaring another state of emergency. The order requires people to remain at home except for essential trips such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, exercise or essential work.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” Ford said. “By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

The province noted ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is expected to rise to 1,000 beds by early February. The number of daily deaths is also projected to double from 50 to 100 deaths per day between now and the end of February. Data also shows mobility and contact between people between people has not decreased with current restrictions.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to five people with limited exceptions. All non-essential retail stores must be open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. This does not apply to stores that primarily sell food, convenience stores, pharmacies, gas stations or restaurants doing takeout or delivery.

The province also indicated it is exploring a temporary residential eviction moratorium.

Haliburton has three confirmed active COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 11, with 38 active in Kawartha Lakes and 29 in Northumberland. In a press release Jan. 8, acting medical officer of health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit Dr. Ian Gemmill urged people to follow public health recommendations.

“Our actions affect other people,” Gemmill said. “If you choose to get together with friends and you get the virus, you could just experience mild symptoms and recover. You could also spread the virus to someone else who is older and more vulnerable, and they may not be so lucky.

“Until we can get the vaccine into everyone’s arms, we need to remain vigilant and to continue to do our part to protect each other,” he added.

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