Ontario Government announces Provincewide Shutdown to stop the spread of COVID-19
Tim Brody - Editor
In an effort to combat a rising number of COVID-19 cases and reduce the strain on the province’s hospitals, the Government of Ontario is imposing a Provincewide Shutdown to go into effect as of Saturday, December 26 at 12:01 a.m.
The shutdown will be in effect for 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario, and will be evaluated throughout that time period to determine if restrictions can be lifted of if they need to be extended.
“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. (David) Williams (Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province of Ontario) 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.”
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health shared, “We continue to see sharp increases in hospitalizations and occupancy in intensive care units is reaching concerning levels. Urgent action must be taken to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. By implementing a Provincewide Shutdown, we can work to stop the virus in its tracks, safeguard hospital capacity, and save lives.”
“On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are advised 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,” the Provincial Government informed.
During the Provincial Shutdown, the province will be:
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.
A full listing of businesses allowed to operate during the shutdown and restrictions they need to abide by, as well as what businesses will need to close during the shutdown, can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-provincewide-shutdown, by downloading the referenced PDF.
The current COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused when the Provincewide Shutdown comes into effect.
“While transmission in schools remains low, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the winter break on January 4, 2021,” the Provincial Government shared.
Schools in the Northwestern Health Unit catchment area can resume in-person instruction on January 11.
The Provincial Government also announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help them through the shutdown.