Ontario is home to Toronto, the largest city in Canada with almost 3 million residents. Ontario has seen over 1,400 cases in the past 24 hours, forcing Ontario Premier Doug Ford to initiate a “lockdown.”
The lockdown will cover Toronto and the Peel Region, Ford announced on Friday.
The measures include the full closure of gyms, recreation facilities, and personal care services while also limiting non-essential retail stores to curbside pickup, CP24 reported.
Supermarkets, hardware stores, department stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and liquor stores are exempt from the order, but they will face restrictions of 50% capacity.
Perhaps most importantly, public schools will remain open under the lockdown, but “post-secondary” institutions will be open for virtual instruction only.
“The situation is extremely serious and further action is required to avoid the worst-case scenario,” Ford said in making the announcement. “We cannot put in-class learning at risk, we can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our long-term care homes, we cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals.”
“To protect our most vulnerable and protect what matters most we have to get the community spread under control,” he added.
The current region designations will remain in place for a minimum of 28 days, which means that the lockdowns will last until at least Dec. 21, CTV News reported.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams advised residents to exercise sound personal judgment, as the province will not mandate transportation restrictions between regions.
“We are all in this together,” Williams said. “You're responsible in your area, but also for the areas outside yours, because we know it affects the whole system.”
“We are going to be trusting and confidence that the public will do the right thing.”
Toronto's government released a statement of support for the lockdown measures, saying, "While these restrictions are necessary to reduce contacts and the spread of COVID-19, they must be implemented alongside enhanced supports to protect frontline workers and disproportionately affected communities."
"The City of Toronto is working closely with its provincial and federal government partners to expand supports to frontline workers and vulnerable Torontonians. The City will have more to share on this in the coming days."