The province-wide COVID-19 lockdown will last into the new year.
This may not be the Christmas gift we were wishing for, but it’s something everyone in Toronto will be receiving once the clock strikes midnight on Boxing Day. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced at a press conference held today that as of 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020, the entire province of Ontario will be entering a full lockdown to curb the climbing COVID-19 case numbers and spare intensive care units in hospitals from overflowing with patients in January.
According to the Premier, the province-wide shutdown will last four weeks (until January 23, 2021) for the 27 public health units in southern Ontario (including the ones in Toronto). Meanwhile, the lockdown will end on January 9, 2021 for the north of Ontario, as their daily case numbers have been significantly lower. The province is waiting until December 26 to start these new restrictions to provide businesses a bit of time to prepare.
The upcoming restrictions in Toronto include (but are not limited to):
- No indoor public events or social gatherings, except with people you live with. If you live alone or are a single parent, you are allowed the choice to have exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
- A limit of 10 people at outdoor organized public events and social gatherings (and these must abide by social distancing).
- A limit of 10 people at weddings, funerals, and religious services.
- Elementary public schools will be closed until January 11, 2021.
- Secondary public schools will be closed until January 25, 2021.
- Virtual learning for colleges and universities (except for health-care related fields).
- Only essential businesses can remain open. This includes supermarkets and convenience stores, both of which can operate at 50% capacity. Big box and discount stores that sell groceries to the public can also remain open at a limited 25% capacity.
- Childcare and pharmacies will remain open.
- No indoor or outdoor dining. Restaurants can open for take-out, drive-thru, and delivery only.
- No drive-in or drive-thru events.
- Museums, zoos, and similar venues are closed.
Here’s a full breakdown of the measures that will come into effect once the lockdown begins.
According to Ontario statistics, COVID-19 hospitalization rates and intensive care unit occupancy rates have severely increased over the last four weeks — in fact, both are more than 15 times higher than they were in September.
Ontarians are being asked to stay home as much as possible and to only leave home for essential trips such as for food, medication, or medical appointments. Furthermore, it is encouraged not to gather during the holidays in order to help flatten the curve.
“We continue to see the number of cases in the province grow and the trends in public health indicators worsen. Additional measures are needed provincewide in order to interrupt this concerning growth,” said Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must work together to enable everyone to follow these new and time-limited restrictions and protect our health system and our communities.”
Remember you can download the COVID-19 alert app to help you stay safe.
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