On Nov. 20, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Toronto will be going into lockdown at 12:01 on Monday, Nov. 23.
The lockdown will last at least 28 days.
“These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations,” the province said in a news release.
Starting Monday, all indoor shopping malls and “non-essential” retail stores must close and restrict service to curbside pickup. Restaurants must also close their patios and restrict service to takeout and delivery. Big box stores and grocery stores will remain open with capacity limits.
Ford also said that dental clinics, which were closed during the first lockdown, can remain open at this time.
Schools and daycares will also remain open.
As far as Christmas goes, Ford said that the province will release recommendations on how families can celebrate in the coming days.
While people in lockdown and Red-Control zones are asked to avoid leaving their towns and cities for non-essential reasons, the province says it has no plans to enforce legally-binding travel bans at this time.
Measures under lockdown include, but are not limited to:
- Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
- Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
- No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
- Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
- Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;
- Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big-box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
- Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
- Personal care services closed;
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
- Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
“With the numbers rising rapidly in certain regions, we have to make the tough, but necessary decisions now to protect our hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and every person in this province,” Ford said in a statement.
“We cannot afford a province-wide lockdown, so we are taking preventative action today by moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown level restrictions and other regions into higher levels of restrictions. We need to take decisive action to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to provide advice to the government using criteria, including:
- Epidemiological indicators such as the number and rate of COVID-19 cases and test positivity;
- Health system capacity indicators including hospital and Intensive Care Unit capacity, access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
- Public health sector capacity, including the number of COVID-19 cases and contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day; and
- Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
Based on the latest data, the following public health unit regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective No. 23 at 12:01 a.m.:
- Durham Region Health Department; and
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.
- Huron Perth Public Health;
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
- Southwestern Public Health; and
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
- Chatham-Kent Public Health;
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
- Grey Bruce Health Unit;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
- Peterborough Public Health; and
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
The province says that trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days (or two COVID-19 incubation periods).
For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions apply to those homes in the public health units that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. For retirement homes, homes in public health regions that are in Red-Control or higher will be in high alert with visitor restrictions.
“Advising regions to move into a lockdown is not a decision we take lightly, but it is one that is needed to ensure the safety of the people of Peel and Toronto,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.
“Now more than ever, it is critical that all Ontarians continue to follow public health advice to help stop the spread of the virus. Everyone has a role to play to protect each other. We are interdependent and nothing can be done without the commitment of each individual, family and community.”
The province said it’s also making additional enforcement mechanisms available to local medical officers of health who have applied additional measures based on their local conditions and needs.
The province said it’s providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures. Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province.
“The federal and provincial governments have been working collaboratively together to deliver benefits and supports to individuals, families and businesses since the onset of COVID-19. Consistent with this, Ontario will work with the federal government to ensure these supports for businesses in COVID-19 hotspots are available in the most straightforward and seamless way possible by integrating these rebates with the federal Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program,” the province said in a news release.