CM – Ontario closes schools through January 17, bans indoor eating, and lowers capacity limits


Sean Davidson
CTV News Toronto multi-platform author


Ontario announced sweeping new restrictions that will close schools for personal learning until at least Jan. 17, a ban on indoor dining, gym closures, and retail capacity limits as COVID-19 cases rise in the province .

The new restrictions, which include reducing the meeting restrictions to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors, will go into effect January 5 and last for 21 days, the government said on Monday.

« The immediate goal of these measures will be to tone down the latest wave so we can ease the pressure on our hospitals, » said Premier Doug Ford on Monday as he announced a return to a modified Step 2. « We are facing a tsunami of new cases days and weeks ahead. »

The government announced that capacity limits have also been cut by 50 percent in retail, including shopping centers.

Indoor dining in restaurants, bars and other dining establishments must be closed. Take-through, drive-through and delivery are still allowed.

While the school is closed for personal learning, the buildings are allowed to remain open to childcare and teaching for students with special educational needs who are unable to study at home.

During this time of distance learning, free emergency care is provided to school-age health care children and other eligible frontline workers.

The government also said that companies and organizations have an obligation to ensure that employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.

Indoor meeting and event rooms must be closed, and public libraries are limited to 50 percent capacity.

As of January 5, the government announced that hospitals would be instructed to suspend all non-pending and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to protect hospital capacity.

« The evidence tells us that about one percent of people who get Omicron end up in the hospital, » said Ford. « That may not seem like much … but Omicron is not like the other variants. It’s much more transferable. One percent of hundreds of thousands are too many new patients. « 

There are currently 1,232 people with COVID-19 in the hospital and 248 people in the intensive care unit.

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