By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County and other parts of Ontario south of Sudbury will enter a provincially mandated 28-day lockdown effective Boxing Day, with many types of businesses mandated to close or to revert to curbside pickup, takeout and delivery services.
“We saw this morning’s modelling, that our COVID numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate,” Premier Doug Ford said during a Dec. 21 press conference, adding the province has seen a 70 per cent increase in hospital admissions and 80 per cent increase in intensive care unit admissions in the past few weeks.
“We’re on the verge of cancelling more elective surgeries,” Ford said.
The premier said there is currently a backlog for surgeries that is thousands of patients long.
“I am also alarmed by reports of a new strain of COVID-19,” Ford said, referencing reports of a new variant of the virus emerging in the United Kingdom.
As of 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26, restrictions similar to those that were in place in March and April will come into effect, with many types of businesses and retail stores mandated to close their doors. According to a press release from the province, there will be restrictions on indoor public events and social gatherings, and the government is asking residents not to gather with people outside their own household for the holidays, or for those who live alone to gather with just one other household. The release says in-person shopping will be prohibited in most settings, while curbside pickup and delivery services may continue. Grocery stores and other stores that sell primarily food, along with pharmacies, will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Indoor access to shopping malls will be restricted, with malls permitted to set up outdoor pickup areas. Both indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars will be prohibited, with those establishments permitted to offer takeout, drive-through and delivery options.
“This difficult action is without a doubt necessary to save lives,” Ford said.
Ontarians are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.