On Boxing Day, Ontario begins the province-wide return to the lockdown’s grey zone. The 28-day lockdown spans from Dec. 26 until Jan. 23 for southern Ontario, and Jan. 9 for health units in northern Ontario. Almost every non-essential business will be required to close during that time.
The lockdown comes as a direct response to increasing COVID-19 cases across the province and requires that no social gatherings or public events take place for the duration of the order. It will, in effect, look similar to the lockdown the province experienced in March.
If the announcement is made tomorrow that #Ontario has to close down for 28 days, starting December 24th, remember that it is to save lives.
— Dr Nili Kaplan-Myrth, MD, PhD, CCFP (@nilikm) December 20, 2020
Ontario is reporting over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, and Premier Doug Ford has expressed fears that the rate of infection is rapidly increasing. On Monday, new modelling forecasted an increase in COVID-19 related deaths heading into 2021, and the number of infected patients in intensive care units across Ontario is expected to pass 300 beds within the next 10 days. When over 300 COVID-19 patients are in the ICU at any given time, officials say, access to non-COVID-related healthcare is impacted.
The second lockdown was announced on Dec. 21 and was originally slated to begin on Dec. 24 but it was modified to begin at 12:01 am on Dec. 26.
In addition to the lockdown, the provincial government announced that all in-person learning at private and elementary schools will be on pause on until at least Jan. 11, while secondary school students in southern Ontario will not be returning to in-person learning until at least Jan. 25.
⭐️⭐️ BIG MISSES TODAY IN THE @fordnation LOCKDOWN ANNOUNCEMENT ⭐️⭐️
1. Waiting until December 26th for the lockdown to start.
2. Elementary only online one week.
3. Supermarkets allowed to operate at 50% capacity; big box has been reduced to 25% which is almost there.
— Ryan Imgrund (@imgrund) December 21, 2020
Child care centres will be open throughout the lockdown, but pet stores, hardware stores that had been able to stay open thus far as well as bars and restaurants will only be open for takeout and curbside pickup. And, those who travel across Canada and return to Ontario are required to self-isolate for two weeks.
There are also new rules being implemented that will prevent short-term vacation rentals during the month of January unless for employment reasons. Anything booked before the lockdown, however, is not affected.
Those who choose not to comply with the rules of the lockdown face varying penalties. Companies in York Region, for example, could face fines of up to $5,000 a day. Fines in other places are up to $5,000 a day for persons and $25,000 a day for corporations.