Premier Doug Ford is making an announcement from Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon where he's expected to put the province under a second Stay-at-Home order.
"The situation is extremely serious. And again, we have to focus on where we see the problem", he said.
"What we do until we start achieving mass immunisation will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people", he said.
The potential stay-at-home order comes on the heels of the province activating its so-called "emergency brake" on April 3, which placed all 34 provincial public health units back into the grey lockdown zone, the most stringent level of restrictions. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province has increased by 28.2 per cent between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021.
As part of the state of emergency order, non-essential retail stores will only be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Big-box stores will be allowed to sell essential items only like food, pharmacy items, household cleaning supplies, personal care supplies, and pet care supplies.
Stores that sell safety supply equipment, assistive devices, eyeglasses, cellphones, vehicle rentals, mechanics and auto dealerships can only operate at a 25% capacity limit, and by-appointment between the same hours as non-essential businesses. These include medical device supply and fix shops, optical stores and auto mechanics.
On Tuesday, Canada reported 6,520 COVID-19 cases.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned of a "very serious" third wave of the virus, with more young people going into hospitals and on ventilators driven by more unsafe virus variants.
Hospitals in Ontario are becoming more stretched.
ICU admissions are rising faster than the worst-case scenario modeled by experts, Ford said.
Education workers who provide direct daily support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in high-risk neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel, will be eligible for vaccination.
The move came the same day that Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, invoked an order banning in-person learning at city schools.
Hours earlier, Ford had told reporters that schools were safe and closures would be unnecessary.