Ford called the closure a temporary, one-time shutdown at a news conference, urging residents to stay home except for essential needs such as food and health emergencies.
“Unfortunately, despite the restrictions, we have seen an increasing number of people traveling between regions of Ontario,” Ford said. Covid spreads rapidly from areas with high outbreaks to areas with fewer cases.
The shutdown will remain in effect for 14 days in northern Ontario and 28 days in southern Ontario, he said. Ontario is the most populous province in Canada, with a population of 14 million people, about 38% of Canada’s 38 million people.
Officials will reassess the situation and determine whether the restrictions should be extended before the initial designated closure expires, Ford said.
Hospitalizations related to Covid-19 have increased by 74% in the last four weeks, and hospitalizations in intensive care for virus-related complications have doubled during this time, the statement said.
The health care system is on the verge of canceling elective surgeries because of capacity concerns, with thousands of surgeries already outstanding, Ford told reporters.
The prime minister called on the Canadian federal government to close its borders to alleviate the spread by travelers.
“That’s why we’ve been constantly … continuously asking the federal government to secure our borders – 63,000 people go unnoticed every week through Pearson International Airport alone,” Ford said. “And I can tell you if they will not act further, at least we have to test air travel when they arrive at the airport. This is essential and if we do not do it, we will do it ourselves, if necessary. “
Indoor public events and larger social gatherings than a single household are restricted.
In-person services at supermarkets and pharmacies will operate at a capacity of 50%, but non-essential retail settings are limited to pick-up and delivery on board.
Restaurants are only reduced to delivery and delivery orders, and indoor and outdoor meals are prohibited during the stop.
“I want to be clear; schools are not part of the Covid problem in our communities. But with plenty of caution, school closures will be extended in the winter,” Ford said.
Kindergarten through 8th grade students will resume personal training on January 11th. High school students will resume distance learning on January 11 and will return to classroom instruction on January 25, according to the press release.