COVID-19 Update: Ontario Announces Provincewide Lockdown Effective December 26, 2020

On December 21, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced a temporary provincewide shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020 (the “Shutdown”). The Shutdown will remain in place for 14 days for public health unit regions in Northern Ontario (i.e. those Public Health Unit regions north of Sudbury, Ontario, including Sudbury and District Health Unit), and 28 days for public health unit regions in Southern Ontario (i.e. those Public Health Unit regions south of Sudbury, Ontario).

Shutdown Restrictions

While the current COVID-19 Response Framework, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, will be paused during the Shutdown, the Shutdown will introduce the following measures:

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.

  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings - curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.

  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls - patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.

  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

Ontarians are advised to stay home, except for necessary trips such as attending employment, medical appointments, or for purchasing necessities such as food, medication, or supporting vulnerable community members. Notably, employers are also advised to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

New School Protocols

In addition to the Shutdown measures noted above, the Government of Ontario has announced new protocols for Ontario schools. Specifically:

  • Classes will resume on January 4, 2021 through remote learning.

  • Schools located in Public Health Unit regions in Northern Ontario will be permitted to resume in-person instruction on January 11, 2021 for both elementary and secondary students.

  • For schools in all other Public Health Unit regions, elementary school students will return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021, and secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25, 2021, at which point they may resume in-person learning.

This update is part of our continuing efforts to keep you informed about COVID-19. If you are an employer and need assistance, please reach out to any member of our Labour & Employment Team or leaders of our Hub for Business Leaders.

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