Ontario to enter ‘provincewide shutdown’ on Boxing Day

Ontario has announced that a “provincewide shutdown” will begin on Boxing Day and last for four weeks in southern areas of the province and two weeks in northern areas.

The government had previously planned to implement the measures beginning on Christmas Eve, sources told Global News.

The shutdown includes a delayed return to in-person classes for both high school and elementary students after the winter break.

Officials said elementary-age children will not return to classes as planned on Jan. 4 and will instead engage in remote learning until Jan. 11, when they would then return to in-person classes in all areas of the province.

Read more: Government delays return of in-person classes for Ontario schools

Secondary school students in northern areas of the province are also set to resume in-class instruction on Jan. 11, while in southern Ontario high school students would work remotely until Jan. 25.

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Child-care centres are expected to remain open for the duration of the shutdown, though during the period where elementary students will be out of classes, the centres will be prohibited from serving school-age children. Before and after school programs must also be cancelled the week of Jan. 4.

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Meanwhile, many businesses throughout the province will be faced with restrictions throughout the shutdown, including restaurants and bars which will once again be limited to only take out and delivery operations.

Shopping malls, garden centres, general retail stores, hardware stores, pet stores, computer stores, cannabis stores, will all be limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.

Discount and big-box retailers will be allowed to remain open so long as they sell groceries and limit the number of people inside to no more than 25 per cent capacity.

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Grocery stores and pharmacies will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Construction is set to continue, and manufacturing businesses are allowed to continue operating.

“Remote work should happen in all industries to the greatest extent possible,” the government added.

“Employers should enable and support workers to work remotely and accommodate household needs related to virtual education and dependent care.”

Read more: More than 300 COVID-19 patients will be in Ontario ICUs within 10 days, modelling shows

Outdoor recreation activities will be allowed to remain open, including parks and recreation areas, playgrounds, ice rinks as well as trails servicing snowmobiles, cross country, and ice skating, all with physical distancing measures in place.

Ski hills must close, as must most fitness facilities.

Indoor social gatherings with anyone outside of your household are prohibited.

Also advised by the government during the shutdown is that anyone who comes into Ontario from outside of the province should self-isolate for 14 days.

More to come.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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