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Ontario moves Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown

Friday, November 20, 2020 @ 5:13 PM | By John Schofield

The Ontario government is moving Toronto and Peel Region into the lockdown phase of its COVID-19 response framework starting Nov. 23 at 12:01 a.m.

In addition, Durham Region and Waterloo Region are being moved into the Red-control category, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott announced at a Nov. 20 news conference.

“The situation is extremely serious, and further action is required to avoid the worst case scenario,” said Ford.

“We cannot put in-class learning at risk,” he added. “We can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our long-term care homes. We cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals. To protect our most vulnerable, to protect what matters most, we have to get the community spread under control.”

According to a Nov. 20 government news release, the restrictions under lockdown will include the continued operation of schools, before and after school programs and child care centres. Post-secondary schools will be open for virtual learning only, 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 will be permitted, except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person.

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. In addition, personal care services such as hair salons will be closed, along with casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments. Closures will also include indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, with limited exceptions.

Retail stores will be allowed to open for curbside pickup or delivery only, with certain exceptions, including 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.

Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings will be 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.

"As we have seen around the world, lockdowns are a difficult but necessary step to stop the spread, safeguard the key services we rely on and protect our health system capacity,” said Elliott. “With the recent positive news on the development of a vaccine, there is a real hope that we can defeat this deadly virus, but for now we all must continue to follow public health advice and strictly adhere to the restrictions in place.”

Areas being moved into the orange-restrict zone are Huron-Perth, Simcoe-Muskoka, Windsor-Essex and the Southwestern Public Health Region. Areas in the yellow-protect category will include Chatham-Kent Public Health, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, Peterborough Public Health and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

In addition, Ford announced that the government will now provide $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to the restrictions, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 budget.

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