With COVID-19 cases rising across the province, the shutdown in Northern Ontario has been extended.
Ontario has announced it will be in effect for at least another 14 days.
The provincial shutdown started Dec. 26. It was slated to last for two weeks in Northern Ontario and 28 days in southern Ontario.
This extension puts the entire province in a shutdown until at least Jan. 23.
Students in Northern Ontario will return to the classroom this coming Monday, Jan. 11. The return to the classroom has been extended to Jan. 25 for students in southern Ontario.
"These time-limited measures are being taken to help ensure that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, while at the same time being responsive to the fact that Northern Ontario students are not able to learn at home as effectively due to limited access to reliable Internet service," reads the announcement.
Since the shutdown, daily COVID-19 case numbers have been consistently high. Today, the province recorded a record-setting 3,519 new cases.
According to the province, key public health indicators have "continued to worsen" in northern and southern Ontario since the shutdown.
Only the Porcupine Health Unit region has sustained a low level of transmission, however, six new cases were announced by the health unit today.
In Northern Ontario, there are currently nine COVID-19 patients in acute care. Four patients are in ICU, two on a ventilator. The acute hospital occupancy is over 90 per cent in Algoma Public Health and Public Health Sudbury and District, according to the province.
The measures will be evaluated after 14 days to decide if the shutdown should be extended again.
"In the last two weeks, we have seen concerning trends at home and abroad, as well as increased community transmission during the holidays, indicating that it is not yet the time to begin easing public health and workplace safety measures," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in the news release. "While extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario is not the news many wanted to hear, we must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect hospital capacity, and save lives."
What is open:
- Grocery stores, convenience stores and indoor farmers' markets
- Big box and discount stores that sell groceries
- Liquor stores
- Supply chain businesses and those declared essential
- Childcare centres and home-based child care
- Outdoor recreation such as a skating rink if participants can socially distance.
- Hotels, lodges, cabins, motels. Attached indoor fitness areas, pools and restaurants must be closed.
Curbside pick-up/appointment only:
- Small Businesses for curbside pick-up or delivery only
- Restaurants for take-out, drive-thru or delivery only
- Pet stores for curbside pick up only, veterinary clinics for curbside pick up/drop off
- Cannabis stores for pick-up or delivery only
- Garden centres for curbside pick-up or delivery only
- Motor vehicle sales by appointment only
- Vehicle and equipment rental by appointment only
- Car mechanic by appointment only
- Home sales by appointment only
What will be closed:
- Shopping malls closed for in-person retail
- In-person driving instruction except for commercial vehicles
- Indoor sports and recreation
- Museums, zoos and similar venues
- Drive-in or drive-thru events are not permitted
- Night clubs and strip clubs
- Ski hills