The Ontario government says it is moving COVID-19 hotspots Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown, shuttering businesses such as salons and gyms and moving restaurants to takeout only and malls to curbside pickup.
Schools and child-care centres will remain open.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams, health minister Christine Elliott and finance minister Rod Phillips at Queen’s Park.
The new restrictions come into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23. There was no end date provided, though Ford mentioned seeing how the new measures work over the next four weeks.
“Further action is required to avoid the worst-case scenario,” Ford said. “I know this is difficult news today. This is not where we want to be. But I have faith that Ontario will weather this storm together.”
Under lockdown measures, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, hardware stores, department stores, alcohol providers, pharmacies, safety supply stores will be exempt from in-person shopping restrictions, but those businesses must cap the number of customers at 50 per cent of approved capacity.
Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments are closed, as are all indoor fitness facilities.
Weddings, funerals and religious services are capped at 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors. Physical distancing must be adhered to.
All indoor social gatherings should be with members of the same household. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people.
“Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation,” Elliott said.
For a full list of what you can and cannot do in Toronto and Peel, see here.
Ford said the province will “spare no expense” to help businesses that are forced to closed. He went on to talk about the $600-million fund to help locked down businesses with fixed costs such as property taxes and hydro bills.
Phillips said businesses can apply for support on Monday through the following website, and money will begin to be distributed next week. Businesses in the red zone can apply for fixed-cost support as of Tuesday.
Elliott said Durham and Waterloo regions will move to the red-level, also as of Monday, joining York and Halton regions.
“I know this is not where we wanted to be,” she said.
Huron Perth Public Health, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Southwestern Public Health and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit move to Restrict-level orange.
Chatham-Kent Public Health, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, Peterborough Public Health, Thunder Bay District Health Unit move to Protect-level yellow.
The new measures are set to arrive as Ontario reported 1,418 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with eight new deaths related to the virus.
Elliott said there were 400 new cases in Peel Region and 393 in Toronto. Chief Medical Officer of Health for Toronto Dr. Eileen De Villa said 45 per cent of all the city’s cases to date have occurred since the beginning of October.
“We know we can turn these numbers around. We also know what happens when this virus spreads out of control … this is not what I want to see for Toronto,” she continued.
Mayor John Tory also responded to the new measures saying he was in full support.