Ontario extends COVID-19 orders for another 30 days amid second wave

Ontario has extended a number of COVID-19 orders until mid-November as the province grapples with the second wave of the disease.

In a news release issued late Tuesday morning, the Progressive Conservative government said that the extension will apply to all orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) except those that deal with hydro prices and access to electronic personal health information.

Orders under the ROA include the province’s ability to implement rules on public gatherings, business closures and managing outbreaks in hospitals or long-term care homes.

The extension of these orders does not change the length Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and York Region will be forced to remain in a modified Stage 2.

“With the cold and flu season upon us and the continuing high number of COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the province, it’s critical we continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Ontarians,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a statement.

“We have renewed the majority of orders to ensure we have the tools in place to address any urgent public health situations and support the continued delivery of critical services.”

The orders will remain in effect until Nov. 21.

There are two orders that will not be extended or amended. The first has to do with the regulation of hydro prices, which is set to change back to time-of-use pricing in November.

The average residential customer using 700 kWh per month is expected to see their bills increase by about $2.24. Customers will also have the choice to change to a “tiered” system for more stagnant rates.

An order that allows health officials to collect electronic personal health information will also expire as of Oct. 22.

In the news release, the government also said that regulations have been amended for both Stage 2 and Stage 3 regions to allow in-person teaching and instruction for fire departments, which are “critical for public safety.”

An order for regions under the modified Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan was also amended to allow dance classes to operate, permitting they follow specified criteria.

“This change to the regulation recognizes that dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, and ballroom, can still be taught and practiced safely when certain public health measures are followed, similar to other permitted activities, such as cheerleading and gymnastics,” the province said.

The ROA was implemented in July and makes changes to about 20 COVID-19 related pieces of legislation.

Under the ROA, COVID-19 related orders put in place during the pandemic can be amended but no new emergency orders can be created.

The orders must be extended every 30 days in order to remain in effect.

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