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Schools closed for two more weeks, capacity restrictions return

Schools closed for two more weeks, capacity restrictions return

As expected, schools in Ontario will not opened for at least two more weeks, and the province will be placed in a modified form of phase two of lockdown. That means capacity restrictions of 50 percent on essential retail such as grocery stores and 25 percent capacity on what are termed as non-essential. Shopping malls will remain open with a 50 percent capacity limit.

A grim Premier Doug Ford said the delay in reopening schools was necessary in order to allow vaccination and booster shots to be administered to as many students and teachers as possible. Chief Medical Officer Dr, Kieran Moore said the measures are intended to buy time to get as many members of the general population vaccinated and boosted and hopefully blunt what he admitted will be a huge surge in cases and hospitalizations. He predicted that even with the measures there will likely be 20 to 30 percent of health workers sick before the worst of the Omicron wave is over.

Dr Kieran Moore the Province’s Chief Medical Officer, described the likely impact on the health care system over the next three or four weeks,

The full list of measures follows:

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
  • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.

All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.

School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.

During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.

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