COVID-19 Update for December 21 2020 – 3:00pm
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced aggressive lockdown measures for the province this afternoon. Starting December 26 at 12:01 a.m., a lockdown of two weeks will take effect in Northern Ontario and a four-week lockdown will take effect in Southern Ontario.
Calling it a “province-wide shutdown,” Ford said the measures will be in place until January 9 for the entire province and January 23 for Southern Ontario. This shutdown presses the pause button on the province’s current COVID-19 Response Framework, and the effect of the strict new measures will be evaluated throughout the shutdown period to determine if it is safe to lift any of the restrictions after 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario — or if they need to be extended.
No indoor organized public events and social gatherings will be allowed for those outside of an immediate household, though individuals living alone and single parents may have exclusive, close contact with another household. Outdoor organized public events and social gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
In-person shopping for most retail settings will be prohibited in most cases, though curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box stores selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity.
The winter break will be extended for schools. Elementary students (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will resume in-class instruction on January 11th, and secondary students will resume classes remotely on January 11th and in person on January 25th. Seven public health unit regions in Northern Ontario will be allowed to resume in-person instruction for all students on January 11th, including The District of Algoma Health Unit, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, Sudbury and District Health Unit and Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
Childcare facilities will remain open. However, before- and after-school programs will be closed from January 4th to January 8th. Emergency childcare services will be provided for frontline and healthcare workers.
The list of Southern Ontario regions included in the four-week lockdown period are:
- Brant County Health Unit
- Chatham-Kent Public Health
- City of Hamilton Public Health Services
- Durham Region Health Department
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit
- Grey Bruce Health Unit
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
- Halton Region Public Health
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Huron Perth Public Health
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
- Lambton Public Health
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
- Middlesex-London Health Unit
- Niagara Region Public Health
- Ottawa Public Health
- Peel Public Health
- Peterborough Public Health
- Region of Waterloo Public Health
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
- Southwestern Public Health
- Toronto Public Health
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
- York Region Public Health
Full details of the province-wide shutdown can be found here.
Read the province’s media release on the announcement here.
Supports for Ontarians
The provincial government announced two supports for Ontarians during the pandemic: a “High Priority Communities Strategy” that includes $12.5 million to address COVID-19’s spread in high-risk communities and an “Ontario Small Business Support Grant” that will award a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to assist small business owners. Details and instructions on how to apply will be announced in January.
More information on the high priority communities strategy can be found here, while more information on the small business grant can be found here.