Toronto and Peel are officially under the lockdown stage of Ontario’s framework for COVID-19 restrictions, meaning that all non-essential retail stores are limited to curbside pickup only and a wide swath of other businesses are closed entirely.
The hard-hit regions entered the category at 12:01 a.m. and will remain under the added restrictions associated with it for at least the next 28 days.
It means that retail stores, with some exceptions for grocers, hardware stores, discount and big-box retailers selling groceries, and corner stores, will be prohibited from allowing customers into their stores. Personal care services, like barbers and salons, have also been forced to close and restaurants are now limited to takeout only.
Meanwhile, new rules have gone into effect in Toronto and Peel to limit all indoor gatherings to only those who live in the household. The limit for outdoor gatherings has also been lowered from 25 to 10 people.
“The main thing people can do now is please stay home,” Mayor John Tory told on Monday morning. “It matters less in the context of achieving the result in which kind of stores are close and not closed. It matters more whether people decide to follow the advice, which is if it is at all possible just stay home.”
The province announced the added restrictions for Toronto and Peel on Friday as new cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in both jurisdictions.
In anticipation of the rules going into effect, several malls extended their hours over the weekend and there were reports of long lineups at stores.
Tory said that the strict new rules are important, even if there is not a lot of data pointing to widespread transmission in settings like retail stores, for example.
“We don’t really know in every single case exactly where people picked up this virus, we just know it is spreading and was spreading in a fashion last week and the week before and the week before that was clearly unacceptable in terms of the trend line we were on,” he said. “Look it is a sad day today just to see this kind of thing having to happen but again the choice was to not do this kind of things and have a much longer, much broader, much worse kind of lockdown happen latter when we had completely lost control of this thing as you have seen elsewhere in the world.”
While the lockdown will shutter a number of businesses across Toronto and Peel, schools and childcare centres will remain open as will services deemed essential like dentist offices and physiotherapists.
Industries like film production and construction that were largely shut down in the spring will also continue to operate with restrictions.
In addition to the new rules in Toronto and Peel, Durham Region and Waterloo have also been moved into the red category alongside York Region as of today. The rules for that category limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons at a time.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
News source: CP24