All of Ontario is moving into a lockdown on Boxing Day as the province tries to curb rising COVID-19 case numbers and spare hospitals and their intensive care units from being inundated in January.
The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and remain in place until at least Jan. 23, 2021, for the 27 public health unit regions in southern Ontario.
In the province’s north, where daily case numbers have been significantly lower, the lockdown is set to expire on Jan. 9.
For the five regions already in lockdown — Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Windsor-Essex and Hamilton — the new measures will not look much different than what is currently in place, though there are a few differences.
For other regions, much tighter restrictions are coming.
Confused about what is allowed or what isn’t? Here’s what lockdown means under these key areas:
Gatherings and events
- No indoor gatherings are allowed with anyone outside a person’s household (the people they live with).
- Individuals who live alone and single parents can have close contact with one other household.
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and must comply with physical distancing rules (i.e. face coverings must be worn if two metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained).
- Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors.
- Virtual and drive-in religious services, rites and ceremonies are permitted.
- Public and private schools must switch to remote learning when classes first resume in the new year.
- In southern Ontario, elementary school students can return to in-person learning on Jan. 11, while secondary school students would continue learning remotely until Jan. 25.
- In northern Ontario, elementary and secondary school students can return to in-person learning on Jan. 11.
- Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with limited exceptions where in-person instruction is required, such as clinical training.
- Child-care centres will remain open for the duration of the provincewide lockdown.
- Non-essential businesses must close. Some essential businesses that remain open will now have stricter capacity limits than the ones already in place in lockdown zones.
- Discount and big-box retailers that sell groceries are limited to 25 per cent capacity.
- Supermarkets, convenience stores and indoor farmers’ markets are limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Pharmacies are limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Liquor stores are limited to 25 per cent capacity. Cannabis stores are limited to curbside pick-up or delivery only.
- Motor vehicle sales are permitted by appointment only.
- Outdoor markets including farmers’ markets and holiday markets are permitted if they primarily sell food to the public.
- Other retailers, including garden centres and hardware, pet food and computer stores, are limited to curbside pickup and delivery only.
- Malls must close to in-person shopping. Curbside pickup is allowed, as is pickup inside the mall at a single designated location, by appointment. People may also enter the mall to access businesses and services that are allowed to stay open under lockdown.
Restaurants and bars
- Indoor and outdoor dining is prohibited at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments.
- Takeout, drive-thru and delivery is permitted.
- Night clubs and strip clubs that operate as a food or drink establishment may stay open for takeout, drive-thru and delivery.
Sports and recreation
- All indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities must close, except for those being used by high-performance athletes and specified professional leagues.
- Some outdoor recreational amenities are permitted to stay open (e.g. playgrounds, ice rinks, tobogganing hills and skating trails), so long as physical distancing is maintained.
- Ski hills must close.
- Motorsports must close.
- Amusement parks and water parks must close.
- Day camps for children must close.
- No drive-in or drive-thru events are allowed.
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may stay open only for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert or other performance. No more than 10 performers are allowed on stage.
Other services and facilities
- Personal care services must close.
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments must close.
- Tour and guide services must close.
- Zoos and aquariums must close to the public but are permitted to operate for the care of animals.
- Museums and cultural amenities must close.
- Libraries may open for contactless curbside, delivery and pick-up, and for permitted services such as child care services.
- No open houses are allowed. Showing a property is permitted by appointment only.
- Construction activities and related services are permitted.
- Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services are permitted.
- Domestic services are permitted only to support children, seniors or vulnerable persons (e.g. housekeeping, cooking and cleaning).
- Vehicle and equipment repair, essential maintenance and rental services are permitted by appointment only.
- Veterinary services are permitted only if they are necessary for the immediate health and welfare of the animal, or if they are provided through curbside pickup and dropoff of the animal.