Sinthia Hoque: With the highly transmissible variant Omicron soaring through Ontario, the government announces on Monday of the new restrictions to take place starting January 5th, which will be kept in place for 21 days. These restrictions include but are not limited to, schools to be closed until January 17th for in-person learning, a ban on indoor dining’s and as well as a limit of capacity with indoor gathering being cut down to 5 people and outdoor 10. Though schools will remain close for in-person learning, the building is still allowed to stay open for child care operations and students who require special education needs and are unable to study at the premises of their homes.
“The level of absenteeism we’re seeing in other sectors tell us with absolute certainty that operating schools, ensuring teachers are on the job and not homesick will be a challenge we cannot overcome in the short-term”, Ford stated. Free emergency child care for school-aged children of eligible front-line workers will also be provided. During the announcement made on Monday, Doug Ford stated, “The immediate goals of these measures will be to blunt the latest wave so we can ease the pressure on our hospitals.”. “We face a tsunami of cases of new cases in the days and weeks ahead.” Retail settings such as shopping malls have had their capacity limit cut down by 50 per cent. Indoor dining at restaurants, bars, or any other food establishments are to close, however, delivery and take-out will still be permissible. Indoor concert venues and movie theatres to close, while personal care services, indoor weddings, and funerals reduced to 50 per cent capacity. Unless the job requires them on-site, the government has ordered businesses and organizations to allow employees to work remotely. Along with museums, zoos, and science centers, indoor meetings, event spaces, and libraries are to close as well.
In order to support small businesses, the government is expanding its Business Costs Rebate Program. Businesses eligible are to receive rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they had endured during the capacity limits. Online applications are to be open during mid-January.