Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Ontario will enter a province-wide shutdown as of 12:01 a.m. on December 26. It will remain in effect for 14 days in Northern Ontario and will be reassessed as of January 9.
Ontario's new restrictions looks similar to the ones in place in its neighbour to the west, Manitoba.
Ford is asking all residents to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary, and essential retailers will remain open with 50 per cent capacity limits. Non-essential retailers will remain open with curbside pickup and delivery only.
Indoor public events and social gatherings will be restricted, except with members of the same household. Those who live alone can have exclusive contact with one other household.
Restaurants and bars will only be able to operate by take-out, drive-through or delivery only. Non-essential surgeries have been postponed.
Schools within the Northwestern Health Unit’s catchment area can resume in-person instruction on January 11 for both elementary and secondary students. All students will be asked to learn virtually between January 4 and 11, and after school programming will remain closed.
All employers are asked to make every effort to allow employees to work from home during this time. A new grant has also been made available for businesses with less than 100 employees who are affected by these measures.
"The number of daily cases continues to rise, putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk," Ford says.
"We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That's why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians."
Ford says while the COVID-19 vaccine is coming, it will be months before mass immunization across the province. Ford adds wants the testing of air travellers, as Toronto’s Pearson airport is still seeing over 63,000 people each week.
Ford notes he’s been made aware of a new strain of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom that is much more infectious than the standard strain of COVID-19. No further details were provided. On Sunday night Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the closure of the Canadian border to UK travellers due to the new strain.
"At midnight tonight, and for the next 72 hours, all flights from the UK will be prohibited from entering Canada. Passengers who arrived today are subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures," the Prime Minister Tweets.
This afternoon, I convened a meeting with the Incident Response Group. We focused on the new variant of COVID-19 identified in the UK, and we have decided to implement new border restrictions in order to keep you - and people right across the country - safe.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 21, 2020
The newly identified strain does not appear to have more serious symptoms than the original strain.
Written by Ryan Forbes