Ontario issues stay-at-home order, Alberta cracks down on COVID-19 rule-breakers

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Ontario residents are facing new stay-at-home orders as officials in several provinces tighten restrictions and crack down on rule-breakers in a race against COVID-19 and its variants.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and it will mean stores selling essential items can stay open but will only be permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items.

The announcement means Ontarians will join residents of Quebec and Alberta in waking up to new restrictions Thursday.

In Alberta, officials fenced off GraceLife church, which has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules.

The move comes a day after Premier Jason Kenney said widespread rule-breaking forced his government to shut down indoor dinning, curb indoor fitness and reduce retail capacity.

Quebecers in hot spots also prepared for new restrictions on gyms and faith gatherings, while officials expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines for essential workers like teachers and first responders in Montreal.

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization says it's standing by its emergency recommendation to extend the delivery of second doses of COVID-19 vaccines up to four months after further research.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press