Lockdown for Toronto and Peel as Ontario takes preventive action

As of 12:01 a.m. Monday November 23, Toronto and Peel move into Lockdown as Ontario moves certain public health unit regions to new levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. A media release from the Premier’s Office on Friday said these necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations.

Measures under Lockdown include, but are not limited to:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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 percent capacity;
  • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
  • Personal care services closed;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
  • Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.

Based on the latest data, the following public health unit regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

Red-Control

  • Durham Region Health Department; and
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.

Orange-Restrict

  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Yellow-Protect

  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Peterborough Public Health; and
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

Please visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse for the full list of public health region classifications.

Trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19incubation periods, at which time, the government will 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 Ministry of Health will continue to communicate regularly with local medical officers of health on local context and conditions to help inform the classification of their public health unit region.


Long-term care homes and retirement homes

For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions apply to those homes in the public health units that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. To further protect the health and safety of those in long-term care homes, staff, essential caregivers and support workers who provide direct care to residents in those regions will be tested more frequently for COVID-19, moving from bi-weekly tests to weekly as of November 23, 2020. In addition, support workers who provide direct care and caregivers in those regions will be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in the past week and verbally attest that they have not subsequently tested positive.
For retirement homes, homes in public health regions that are in Red-Control or higher will be in high alert with visitor restrictions as outlined in the Retirement Homes COVID-19 Visitor Policy. Homes will continue to be notified of their alert status by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.

To further support public health regions, the province is making additional enforcement mechanisms available to local medical officers of health who have applied additional measures based on their local conditions and needs. The government is amending Ontario Regulation 950 under the
Provincial Offences Act, allowing for a ticket to be issued for any contravention of a COVID-19 specific communicable disease class order issued by a medical officer of health. The government will also ask the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to establish a set fine to be attached to any ticket issued for violating a section 22 order relating to COVID-19 made by a local medical officer of health.

Additional supports available for businesses affected by COVID-19 public health measures

The news release goes on to say that the Ontario government is now providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover.
Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province, via an easy-to-use one-window portal. The rebates will cover the length of time that a business is required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in an area categorized as Red-Control or Lockdown, or previously categorized as modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application. A detailed list of eligible businesses, as well as instructions for applying, can be found at
Ontario.ca/covidsupport

Yelich,I. and Hilkene,A.(2020,Nov.20) Ontario Taking Further Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19; Province Also Doubling Financial Support for Businesses Affected by Additional Restrictions [media release]


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