Toronto, ON—With Ontario COVID-19 cases on the rise, and the provincial government concerned about overwhelming hospitals, they have decided to put the entire province in lockdown—again.
“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,” stated Premier Doug Ford in a press release following a virtual press conference.
As of 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 14, a “stay-at-home” order has been given requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, health care services, exercise, or essential work. Businesses must allow any employee to work from home, if possible.
“Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HRAI and the HVAC/R sector have worked closely with provincial governments, industry partners and our members to play our part in ensuring that the health, safety, and comfort of the indoor environment is maintained,” stated Sandy MacLeod, president and CEO of the Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI).
“Heating in the winter and cooling in the summer is necessary in this country. In the early days of COVID-19, our sector was deemed an essential service. Since then, HRAI’s members have adopted best operational practices and implemented and adhered to all public health safety protocols and procedures.”
For the mechanical industry, it will see more restrictions put in place. All non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
Construction-related business permitted to remain open are as followed:
- Land surveying and demolition services.
- Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector and long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and the conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
- Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of provincial and municipal infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy, mining and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
- Construction projects and services that support the operations of schools, colleges, universities, municipal infrastructure and childcare centres.
- Construction projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
- Construction projects and services that support the operations of internet and cellular technologies and services.
- Critical industrial construction activities required for the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced, industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of personal protective equipment, medical devices, and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Construction projects that are due to be completed before July 2021 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
- Construction projects that were commenced before January 12, 2021 and would provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services, or provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of IT services or telecommunications services.
- Residential construction projects where a footing permit has been granted for single-family, semi-detached and townhomes.
- The project is a condominium, mixed-use or other residential building, or the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021.
- Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
- Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure public safety.
- Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects, such as apartments and condominiums.
- Construction on any project intended to provide either affordable housing or shelter or supports for vulnerable persons.
- If the project is being funded in whole or in part by, or is being undertaken by, any of the following:
- the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
- an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
- a municipality,
- a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
- a registered charity and not-for-profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).
The province will conduct additional enforcement and workplace testing to ensure compliance with the new updates due to the lockdown.
“MCA Ontario recognizes the importance that all involved in the mechanical contracting industry in Ontario,” said Steve Coleman, executive vice-president of MCA Ontario. “Construction has, fortunately, been authorized to continue most operations; something it has earned largely due to the outstanding overall health and safety culture and protocols it has in place. For our part going forward, it is important that we make every effort to continue to adhere to all protocols implemented.”
More businesses will see restrictions put in place. Hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. These restrictions don’t apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants that offer takeout or delivery.
According to the Ontario government, the ICU occupancy for COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is expected to reach as high as 1,000 beds by early next month. This could overwhelm the hospitals. In addition, deaths related to the virus are projected to double from 50 to 100 deaths per day.
Outdoor organized public and/or gatherings are restricted to five people with few exceptions. Masks are still required and now recommended outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible.