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What you need to know about the impending province-wide lockdown

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. 

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. 

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. 

Article exclusive to TRNTO