Ontario COVID-19 shutdown starts Boxing Day

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The Ontario-wide lockdown will start on Boxing Day, Premier Doug Ford has announced. As of 12:01 a.m. on Monday Hamilton will also be in grey-lockdown. "The health officials are telling us that provincewide action is needed if we're going to break these trends", Ford added.

In the announcement, Ford shared details on the spread of the virus for higher outbreak areas to areas with fewer cases.

Indoor public events and social gatherings only with the people you live with. Businesses such as restaurants will close to indoor dining, but will be permitted to offer take-out and delivery.

The lockdown was originally set to begin on December 24 but was pushed back two days by the provincial government on Monday. "Give them the opportunity to get ready and get ready to hunker down".

The Ontario government announced on Monday that schools in the province will remain closed to in-person learning until at least January 11.

There are also benefit programs like the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program and relief for households with students learning at home to help subsidize hydro bills for eligible residents.

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The latest explosion of cases has been tied to people ignoring social-distancing rules during the Thanksgiving holiday. Entertainment production - including professional sports - would be allowed to continue without live audiences.

As part of the lockdown, elementary schools in southern Ontario will be remote-only from Jan. 4 through Jan. 11 and secondary schools will be remote-only from Jan. 4 until Jan. 25.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he's hopeful the province will review lockdown measures in the city after 14 days, possibly shortening how long the additional restrictions are in place.

Ford has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks from opposition leaders and health-care organizations to impose stricter restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Hours earlier, the province's health advisers said the sooner a "hard lockdown" were implemented, the more new cases could be prevented.

Ford stresses the move is created to ease current pressures on the health care sector, stating the province is on the verge of cancelling more elective surgeries and we already have thousands and thousands of backlog surgeries. "While we are coping and planning for redeployment, we are seeing more illness and stress and hearing about the toll this is taking on people's families", the joint statement reads. For comparison, about 264 patients required intensive care treatment during the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

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