Ontario to implement provincewide lockdown on Christmas Eve, sources say

The Ontario government is poised to impose a provincewide lockdown starting Christmas Eve, sources confirm, as the province logs more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the sixth consecutive day.

A 28-day lockdown for the southern portions of the province, south of Sudbury, Ont., will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, sources confirm.

Meanwhile, the northern parts of Ontario will be under a 14-day lockdown, sources say.

The restrictions will look similar to the shutdown in March, with only essential businesses remaining open. 

On Sunday, the province recorded 2,316 new cases of the virus.

Sources say the government is still “fine-tuning” the list to provide maximum clarity and note that the decisions made were based on modelling data. 

Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce more public health rules on Monday, following a weekend of emergency talks.

Lockdown orders in Toronto and Peel Region that were set to expire this week are being extended, Ford said in an announcement on Friday.

GTA Hospitals calling for ‘stronger’ restrictions

Hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area are also calling on the Ontario government for “stronger” lockdown measures amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Hospitals across the GTA say they are fearful if restrictions aren’t tightened, a surge in cases will follow. 

The joint statement was released on Sunday by hospitals in Toronto and neighbouring regions of Durham, Halton, Peel and York.

The letter, in collaboration with the Ontario Hospital Association, is urging the Ford government to implement tightened restrictions during the holidays, as hospitals deal with growing numbers.

Winter break would be extended for elementary students for a period of one to two weeks, sources tell CBC News.

Under any scenario, Ontario would see 300 people in ICU by the end of the month.

At the current rate of transmission, that would mean upwards of 700 people in the ICU by the end of January, and the number of new cases would grow to 10,000 per day.

‘Level of strain simply not sustainable for much longer’

Staff are grappling with increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals while also assisting in other settings such as long-term care homes, the statement says.

“These trends show no sign of slowing — in fact, a surge in cases following the holiday season is expected to make the situation even worse,” it reads.

“We recognize that lockdown measures are challenging for many members of our communities, but we cannot afford to put patients and health-care workers at further risk.”

The statement says hospitals are seeing increasing numbers of staff falling ill and becoming unable to work both with COVID-19 and other illnesses.

“For many months now, these front-line health-care workers have been devoting enormous energy and skill to caring for their patients, at the very epicenter of the pandemic,” it notes. “They are stressed and overstretched. This level of strain is simply not sustainable for much longer.”

Locally, there are 486 new cases in Toronto, 468 in Peel, 326 in York Region, 151 in Windsor-Essex County and 128 in Niagara.

All of those regions are currently under lockdown due to rising case counts, except for Niagara, which is moving to the red alert level of the province’s pandemic plan on Monday.

Elliott said more than 69,400 tests completed over the last 24 hours, a record for the province. The previous record of 68,246 tests were completed on Friday.

There are currently 54,546 tests under investigation in the province.

There were 2,275 new cases on Tuesday, 2,139 on Wednesday, 2,432 on Thursday, 2,290 on Friday, and 2,357 on Saturday.

There are currently 18,567 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.

More than 50 new cases of the virus were recorded in the following areas:

  • Halton Region: 97.
  • Waterloo Region: 91.
  • Hamilton: 88.
  • Durham Region: 82.
  • Middlesex-London: 80.
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 62.

There are currently 875 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of this number, 261 are in intensive care units across the province, and 156 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Elliott said the safest way to celebrate this holiday season is at home with the people you live with.

“Connect virtually to keep in touch with extended family and friends,” the health minister said in a tweet. 

“If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household.”

25 new COVID-19-related deaths

Twenty-five additional deaths have been linked to the virus, bringing the province’s death toll is now 4,150. Of the deaths confirmed on Sunday, 18 were residents of long-term care homes.

There are 162 active outbreaks at long-term care homes in the province.

Sunday’s case count brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario to 155,930, including deaths and recoveries.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce more public health rules on Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Hamilton enters grey lockdown phase Monday

Today is the last day before Hamilton enters the grey “lockdown” phase of the province’s pandemic response plan.

Hamilton is joining Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex in lockdown mode.

The stricter public health protocols — which restrict restaurants to offering takeout and delivery only, and close non-essential stores — kick in at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.

Ontario is providing details on 17 hospitals that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks to health-care workers. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Meanwhile, Ontario is providing details on 17 hospitals that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks to health-care workers. The facilities include hospitals from Windsor to Thunder Bay.

The hospitals will join the University Health Network in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital in giving the vaccine to workers. The province expects to receive an additional 90,000 doses.

Vaccine doses will be available at:

  • Windsor Regional Hospital.
  • London Health Sciences Centre.
  • Grand River Hospital.
  • Halton Healthcare.
  • Hamilton Health Sciences.
  • William Osler Health System.
  • Trillium Health Partners.
  • Southlake Regional Health Centre.
  • Mackenzie Health.
  • Humber River Hospital.
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
  • Toronto East Health Network.
  • Unity Health Toronto.
  • Scarborough Health Network.
  • Lakeridge Health.
  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
  • Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

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