TORONTO — Ontario restaurants have once again been forced to close their dining rooms and patios following last Thursday’s announcement that the province would hit the “emergency brake” amidst an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases.
Just before the Easter long weekend, Premier Doug Ford announced the new measures — which prohibit both indoor and outdoor on-premise dining — would come into effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m and will last for at least four weeks.
“I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals,” said Ford during the announcement. “Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. That is our best protection against this deadly virus.”
- No indoor and outdoor dining. Takeout, delivery and drive-thru options are allowed
- Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor gatherings to a five-person maximum — except for gatherings with members of the same household or gatherings of members of one household and one other person who lives alone.
- Limits on in-person shopping: a 50-per-cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and a 25-per-cent limit for all other retail including big box stores.
- No personal care services.
- Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness, with very limited exceptions.
- The closure of day camps.
- Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services to 15-per-cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of people who can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.
In hotspot regions such as Toronto, the new measures are very similar to restrictions already in place. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province did not issue a stay-at-home order like the one from the start of the year, because officials saw then that it had “tremendous ill effect on children and adults.”