It's official: Toronto and Peel are both being moved from the red zone into the lockdown category of Ontario's tiered COVID-19 restriction framework, beginning this Monday.
Most Ontarians knew it was coming by this point amid skyrocketing case numbers and warnings that ICU wards are hitting critical patient thresholds, but it wasn't until today that the province specified what the term "lockdown" actually means under their new colour-coded system.
Say goodbye to drinking on patios, shopping at non-essential retail stores, personal care services, indoor sports and recreation facilities and weddings with more than 10 people present in total.
"Based on the latest data, the government intends to move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.," said the government in a release shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
"This action is being taken to help stop the spread of COVID-19, while prioritizing the continued opening of schools, child care centres and other key services to the fullest extent possible."
Per Ontario's Ministry of Health, the measures under lockdown are as follows:
- Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
- Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
Weddings and events
- No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
- Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
- Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;
Shopping and retail
- Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
Restaurants and bars
- Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery.
- Indoor and outdoor dining services (including patio dining) are prohibited;
Hair salons and personal care services
- Personal care services closed including hair salons and barber shops;
Casinos and gaming
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
Sports and recreation
- Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams will use the following criteria to adjust restriction levels moving forward:
- Epidemiological indicators such as the number and rate of COVID-19 cases and test positivity;
- Health system capacity indicators including hospital and Intensive Care Unit capacity, access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
- Public health sector capacity, including the number of COVID-19 cases and contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day; and
- Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
The province says all public health units will stay in their respective levels for a period of 28 days (or two COVID-19 incubation periods.)
Officials will then "assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level."
The soonest Toronto could be moved out of lockdown under these rules would be Friday, Dec. 18.