Here’s what you can and can’t do in Ontario during coronavirus shutdown

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WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday announced the province will be entering a provincewide shutdown beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26. – Dec 21, 2020

The provincial government has announced all of Ontario will be entering a provincial shutdown as of 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 in a bid to combat rising coronavirus cases.

The restrictions will supersede previously issued lockdowns in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Hamilton. Officials said the restrictions will be in place for 14 days in northern Ontario and 28 days in southern Ontario, which will be evaluated later on “to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if [those] need to be extended.”

“We continue to see sharp increases in hospitalizations and occupancy in intensive care units is reaching concerning levels,” Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Read more: Ontario to enter ‘provincewide shutdown’ on Boxing Day

“Urgent action must be taken to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. By implementing a provincewide shutdown, we can work to stop the virus in its tracks, safeguard hospital capacity, and save lives.”

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Overall, trips outside of the home should only be done for essential reasons (work, school, groceries, exercise, caring for vulnerable people). Social gatherings and organized indoor events are restricted except for people who live in the same home. Those who live alone were told to consider associating with only one other household.

Here is what will be allowed to operate under Ontario’s lockdown guidelines:

Cannabis stores

Cannabis stores can be open for curbside pick-up.

Casinos, bingo halls, gaming

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming facilities were ordered closed.

Cinemas, movie theatres, performing arts, cultural and entertainment facilities

These facilities were ordered closed. Rehearsals or performances being broadcast are allowed without spectators. Singers and musicians playing brass and wind instruments must be separated by impermeable barriers. There is a maximum of 10 performers on stage and spectators aren’t allowed at concert venues, theatres and cinemas.

Museums and zoos are also closed.


Work on construction projects will be allowed to continue.

Driving schools, driver testing

In-person instruction is not allowed except for commercial vehicle drivers, but virtual classes can continue.

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The Ontario Ministry of Transportation reported in-vehicle passenger road tests have been cancelled. Those who paid for the test will have a credit for rebooking.

DriveTest centres will stay open for “essential services,” such as knowledge tests.

Film and television production

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Studio audiences aren’t permitted. A maximum of 10 performers will be allowed on a film or television set.

Sets need to be configured so that there is a physical distance of at least two metres from other people except when it’s needed for filming.

Makeup and hair services staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment.

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Post-production is permitted.

Hotels, motels, short-term rentals

Hotels and motels can remain open for business. However, pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational amenities must be closed.

Short-term rentals are “only to be provided to individuals who are in need of housing” and doesn’t apply to bookings made before the shutdown.

Household services

Housekeepers, nannies, baby sitters and other household staff will be allowed to keep working. Cleaning, maintenance and repair-related services and businesses will also be allowed.


Only contactless curbside pickup and delivery will be allowed, but most other amenities in libraries are banned. Permitted services (child care, social services, mental health and addictions support services) can also continue.

Nightclubs and strip clubs

Nightclubs and strip clubs can only operate if doing so as a restaurant or other food and drink establishment, which means take-out, drive-through and/or delivery services of food and drink only.

Personal care services

Personal care service providers (e.g. hair salons, barbershops etc.) were ordered closed.

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Real estate

Real estate agencies will be allowed to operate, but viewings must be by appointment only.

Regulated health services

Regulated health professionals (chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists, podiatrists) are allowed to operate under the provincial framework.

Restaurants, bars, cafes

Indoor and outdoor seating is banned. Take out, drive-through and delivery services will be allowed to continue.

Schools and post-secondary institutions

The Ontario government said all publicly funded schools will have online learning the week of Jan. 4.

Although elementary and secondary students in northern Ontario public health regions will be able to return to school on Jan. 11, for other parts of the province there will be a staggered return to schools.

Elementary schools in the southern regions will see a return of in-person learning on Jan. 11 while secondary school students won’t be allowed back into the classroom until Jan. 25.

READ MORE: Government delays return of in-person classes for Ontario schools

Educators who aren’t able to “delivery quality remote teaching, instruction or support to students from home” will be allowed in school buildings as well as those who provide access to child care centres at schools.

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Child care centres will be allowed to remain open during the shutdown. However, during the week of Jan. 4, before- and after-school programs are cancelled. Some parents might be eligible for emergency child care during the week.

Post-secondary institutions can stay open for in-person instruction only for programs that require it (for example clinical medical training, trades etc.). Virtual learning will be required for all other situations.

Shopping and retail

Customers waiting in lines must adhere to a two-metre separation.

The Ontario government has allowed in-person shopping at supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. However, those businesses must cap the number of customers at 50 per cent of approved capacity.

Discount and big-box businesses that sell groceries can operate, but capacity is limited to 25 per cent of the approved capacity “of the particular room.”

Other retail businesses, hardware stores and department stores will only be allowed to open for curbside pick-up and delivery. Customers will not be allowed inside to do in-person retail shopping.

Stores in malls can be open for curbside pickup. Ontario’s health minister encouraged the setup of outdoor pickup areas. Mall entrances can remain open for people to access essential services (e.g. pharmacies). Food courts can only remain open for takeout service.

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Automobile dealerships can remain open on an appointment-only basis. Garden centres can remain open for curbside pick-up or delivery.

Outdoor markets can remain open.

Social gatherings, religious services, weddings, funerals

Organized, indoor public events and social gatherings are banned except for people from the same household. Outdoor organized public events and social gatherings with physical distancing are capped at 10 people. Virtual and drive-in events with distancing will be allowed.

Weddings, funerals and religious services are capped at 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors. Physical distancing must be adhered to.

Sports and recreation fitness

All indoor facilities have been ordered closed. Community centres and multi-purpose facilities can only remain open for exempt activities and services such as child care.

Ski hills were ordered closed, but recreational activities at parks, ice rinks, skate parks, basketball courts, playground, horse riding facilities, tobogganing hills and skating trails were allowed to remain open.

Indoor individual and team sports, as well as training, aren’t allowed except for high-performance athletes and professional leagues. Change room facilities were ordered closed. Outdoor team sports where people come within two metres of each other are banned.

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