Ontario lockdown starts Boxing Day

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Health experts say 45,000 more people could fall ill with five day lock down delay

Premier Doug Ford says the hard truth is COVID-19 is not going anywhere unless we are able to vaccinate more Ontarians.

So, starting 12:01 am Boxing Day, there will be a province-wide lock down – 14 days in the north and at least 28 days in southern Ontario in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the province has topped 2,000 for nearly a week.

As Health Minister Christine Elliott says “we’ve reached the tipping point” and that’s led to the shutdown.

Earlier in the day, scientists modelling what could happen in the pandemic in Ontario said a province-wide shutdown for 28 days or more was necessary immediately and that by shutting down right away instead of Boxing Day, 45,000 of cases could be avoided.

Ford says the decision was made to wait five days to shut things down to give businesses a chance to prepare, including giving restaurants a chance to reduce their inventory.

Ford says a province wide lock down was necessary because “people are moving from region to region and they’re bringing COVID with them.”

Lambton is one community which has seen rapid growth of the virus. Over the weekend 46 people tested positive for COVID-19. That, according to statisticians, is a 209 per cent increase over last week.

The lock down says all but the essential services, such as grocery stores and gas stations, will be open. It includes, according to the provincial news release;

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

Schools will also be impacted, although Ford says it is clear schools are not a problem for the spread of COVID-19. Elementary students will be back to in person school Jan. 11, secondary school students back in class Jan. 23. According to the St. Clair District Catholic School Board, students will begin online learning Jan. 4 before returning to class.

Ford says the province has to “insure we do what is needed to stop the spread…it is extremely difficult but absolutely critical.”

Ford added the province will be providing support for small businesses of up to $20,000.

And he asked that people remain “strong a little bit longer.”