After weeks of waffling over whether or not to shut down parts of Ontario's economy in response to fast-accelerating rates of COVID-19, the provincial government has finally taken decisive action.
The public health regions of Toronto, Peel and Ottawa will all officially revert to a "modified version" of Stage 2 of the reopening process at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 10.
Restrictions will remain in place for a minimum of 28 days and include the complete closure of gyms, casinos, cinemas, tourist attractions and the indoor dining areas of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Premier Doug Ford announced the news on Friday, 15 days after the Ontario Hospital Association first called upon him to make such a move, and a full week after Toronto's Medical Officer of Health asked for similar restrictions.
Residents have been expecting a return to some form of lockdown for weeks, but Ford had held off despite the urging of public health experts in an effort to spare small businesses that could very well be destroyed by a second mandated closure.
With 939 new cases confirmed across the province on Thursday, as reported Friday morning, it appears as though waiting for more data is no longer an option.
Here's a full list of the targeted measures being implemented under Ontario's modified version of Stage 2 for Toronto, Ottawa and Peel.
New Stage 2 measures
- Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
- Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls; and
- Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service;
- Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).
New Stage 2 closures
- Indoor gyms and fitness centres (e.g., yoga studios, dance studios);
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
- Performing arts centres and venues;
- Spectator areas in racing venues;
- Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums and galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc. although the Toronto Zoo remains partially open. (note that these restrictions apply only to interactive exhibits. The AGO, the ROM and several other museums and galleries in Toronto remain open as a whole.)
New Stage 2 reduced capacity limits
- Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors;
- Real Estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained;
- In-person teaching and instruction (e.g., cooking classes) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.;
- Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
"Schools and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place," noted the province in a release Friday afternoon.
"Effective Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., wedding receptions will be temporarily suspended in these regions."
In addition to measures being implemented in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Wililiams, is advising all Ontario residents to:
- Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
- In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
- Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
- Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.