Four-week shutdown for entire province starts Saturday: Here's how London businesses are impacted

Just three days after London was placed back into the red-control zone Premier Doug Ford has announced a province-wide shutdown as cases continue to climb.

The "emergency brake" shutdown will last for at least four weeks and will begin Saturday at 12:01 a.m. and will include the following:

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close; and,
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that 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.

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” said Ford in a news release.

“I know pulling the emergencybrake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals. 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,” Ford added.

It was just Tuesday that the province forced the Middlesex-London region back into the red-control zone due to climbing cases.

On Thursday, the region saw 84 new cases.

The announcement of a third shutdown comes as Ontario reported 421 patients in ICUs on Wednesday, which is the highest number of critical care patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

So far London’s hospitals are not seeing a surge in patients in ICUs but officials cautioned that could quickly change.

At LHSC there are currently five or fewer patients in the ICU.

The London region now has 505 active cases. There are six confirmed variant cases and 157 screening positive.

The shutdown comes as Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table released new modelling data showing that without a new order, the province will be unable to curb the spread of COVID-19 variants. The report noted that even with new four-week measures and vaccinations in place, admissions to intensive care units could reach 800 by the end of the month.

COVID-19 cases could fall to between 1,000 to 1,500 a day by the end of April if the province activates a shutdown for four weeks, the table said. If no further public health measures are implemented, daily case counts could rise to 6,000 by the end of April.

With files from CTV Toronto.