The entire province of Ontario will be locking down to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The shutdown will go into effect as of December 26 at 12:01 a.m.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Monday.
When the new lockdown comes into effect it pauses the current colour coded system of COVID-19 restrictions.
“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Ford. “We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians.”
- Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
- Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
- Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
- Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.
After 14-days the impacts of these measures will be evaluated in Northern Ontario and after 28 days in Southern Ontario to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health is advising everyone to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
No indoor public events or social gatherings will be allowed, except with members of the same household.
All elementary and secondary schools will move remote learning when students return from the winter break on January 4.
Schools located in the following Public Health Unit regions can resume in-person instruction on January 11, 2021 for both elementary and secondary students:
- The District of Algoma Health Unit
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
- Northwestern Health Unit
- Porcupine Health Unit
- Sudbury and District Health Unit
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- Timiskaming Health Unit
For schools in all other Public Health Unit regions, elementary school students are planned to be able to return to in-person learning on January 11 and secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25 at which point they may resume in-person learning.
During this period, child care centres, authorized recreational and skill building programs and home-based child care services will remain open.
From January 4-8 when elementary students move to remote learning, before and after school programs will be closed and emergency child care for health care and frontline workers will be provided.
Help for small businesses
On Monday, the province also announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant.
It will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owner.
Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
- Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.