TORONTO — Ontario will go into a strict province-wide lockdown on Dec. 26, forcing nearly all non-essential businesses to close.
The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and will last until Jan. 23 for all regions in southern Ontario, the government has announced.
The health units not in southern Ontario will remain in lockdown until Jan. 9.
The lockdown was originally set to begin on Dec. 24 but was pushed back two days by cabinet on Monday.
The province-wide lockdown will look similar to the shutdown back in March, with only essential businesses being allowed to remain open.
Schools to close for in-person learning after winter break
Publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in the province will close for in-person learning until at least Jan. 11.
All publicly-funded schools northern public health regions are allowed to resume in-person learning on Jan. 11.
Elementary schools in southern Ontario can also resume in-person learning on Jan. 11, but secondary schools students in southern Ontario won’t be allowed to return to the classroom until Jan. 25.
Child care centres will remain open for the duration of the lockdown, the government said. An earlier version of this story said that child care centers will only be open to essential workers but the premier’s office has now confirmed that is not the case.
Under the lockdown orders, bars and restaurants may only remain open for takeout.
Shopping malls will be closed for in-person retail, with members of the public only permitted to access the facilities for essential services. Hardware stores can only remain open for curbside pickup.
Personal care services, casinos, zoos, and museums are among some of the other businesses that will be forced to close.
Libraries are allowed to remain open for curbside pickup.
The government is also asking that people do not leave home unless it is for an essential reason and only travel outside their own region if absolutely necessary.
Anyone who travels within Canada during the province-wide shutdown is being asked to self-isolate upon their return to Ontario.
Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex are already under lockdown. Hamilton joined the grey zone of the province’s tiered COVID-19 framework on Monday.
This is a developing new story. More information to come.