More details on Ontario’s Provincewide Shutdown

On Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a provincewide lockdown to get COVID-19 transmission under control. This article contains comprehensive sector-specific details from the province, but has been abbreviated. Full details can be found here.

Lockdown length

The lockdown starts on Saturday, Dec. 26 2020. In 27 Public Health regions spanning Southern Ontario, including Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region, the lockdown will last until Saturday, Jan 23, 2021

In Northern Ontario, from Thunder Bay northward, the lockdown will end on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, explained on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 that he believes this decision was taken because the risk of people travelling into Northern Ontario during the winter to escape lockdown in the south is perceived to be low.

General Public Health measures for all businesses, organizations and facilities

Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) that provides protection of the eyes, nose, and mouth, is required if a worker is required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering and not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

All businesses or facilities must limit capacity so that every member of the public is able to maintain two metres of physical distancing from every other person, and limit the number of people occupying any room that is open to the public to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Some businesses or facilities have additional capacity restrictions. All retail businesses or facilities must post a clearly visible sign that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under.

The maximum number of persons permitted in a business or facility that is operating at 50 per cent capacity is determined by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public, not including shelving and store fixtures, dividing that number by eight and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.

The maximum number of persons permitted in a business or facility that is operating at 25 per cent capacity is determined by taking that same area, dividing that number by 16 and rounding down to the nearest whole number.

Businesses or places that are open must keep equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers that are accessible to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary.

Businesses or organizations must ensure that masks or face coverings are worn by any person (including members of the public and workers) in the indoor area of the business or organization, with limited exceptions.

All open businesses require a readily available COVID-19 safety plan. It should be posted somewhere visible to staff and patrons.

Group gatherings

There are to be no indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone and single parents may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.

Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings, which must comply with Public Health advice on physical distancing: 10 people outdoors

Weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained: 10 people indoors or outdoors.

Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies permitted, subject to certain conditions and virtual services are permitted.

Schools, post-secondary & childcare

The following approach applies to publicly-funded and private elementary and secondary learning, with the exception of First Nation and federally operated schools:

Elementary and secondary school students at publicly-funded schools will participate in remote learning from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

Publicly-funded schools and private schools in Northern public health regions will be permitted to resume in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 for both elementary and secondary schools.

For publicly-funded schools and private schools in all other Public Health Unit (PHU) regions:

  • Elementary school students will return to in person learning on January 11, 2021.
  • Secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25, 2021 and resume in-person learning on that date.

During the applicable period, schools will be closed, with the following exceptions:

  • For staff who are unable to deliver quality remote teaching, instruction or support to students from home
  • To provide access for child care centers in schools

Childcare will remain open for the duration of the Provincewide Shutdown period. This includes child care offered in licensed centres, in home-based settings (licensed and unlicensed), and by authorized recreation and skill-building providers.

During the period where elementary schools are operating virtually (i.e., from January 4 to 8, inclusive), licensed child care centres and authorized recreation and skill-building providers will be prohibited from serving school-aged children. All before and after school programs are being closed during this one-week period. These programs may resume operation when elementary schools return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.

To support the parents of school-aged children who may not be able to accommodate their child’s learning/care at home, the Ministry of Education will be implementing a targeted emergency child care program for school-aged children, at no cost to eligible parents. More information available here.

Operators of before and after school programs that are required to close from January 4-8, 2021 cannot charge fees or otherwise penalizing parents during this time period (e.g., parents must not lose their respective child care spaces).

Post-secondary institutions can be open for virtual instruction, with limited exceptions where in-person instruction is required (e.g., clinical training, trades). In-person learning is subject to physical distancing with limited exceptions.

In-person teaching (each instructional space at the institution at one time) and in-person examinations cannot exceed 10 persons, with limited exemptions for:
o Diagnostic cardiac sonography and diagnostic medical sonography
o Diagnostic ultrasound
o Medical imaging
o Medical laboratory assistant and Medical laboratory technician
o Medical radiation technology
o Medicine
o Mental health and addictions services, including psychology services, social work services and counselling services
o Nursing
o Paramedic
o Personal support worker, supportive care worker, home care worker or a similar occupation
o Pharmacy/pharmacy technician
o Public health inspector, if the program is accredited by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors
o Rehabilitation sciences (nutrition, speech language pathology, occupational science, and physiotherapy)
o Respiratory therapy

There are additional requirements for in-person teaching that involves singing or the playing of brass or wind instruments.


For sector specific Public Health and workplace safety measures, refer to O. Reg. 82/20 1 for details

Supply chain: Businesses that supply businesses or places that are permitted to open within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.

Meeting spaces are only permitted to open for:

  • The operation of child care centres and authorized recreational and skill building programs within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
  • Court services
  • Government services
  • Mental health and addictions support services (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) permitted to a maximum of 10 people
  • Social services

Contact information recording is required in these settings.

Restaurants, bars and other or drink establishments

  • Take out, drive through, and delivery permitted only
  • Includes the sale of alcohol

No in-person driving instruction permitted except:

  • For instruction for drivers of commercial motor vehicles
  • Where the instruction is part of the Ontario Driver Certification Program administered by the Ministry of Transportation and involves the operation of motor vehicles for which:
    • A class of driver’s licence other than Class G, G1, G2, M, M1 or M2 is required
    • An air brake endorsement is required
    • Or that is provided by a private career college, in accordance with certain conditions

Pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores, indoor farmer’s markets and other stores that primarily sell food can be open for in-person retail, subject to:

  • Two metres of physical distancing
  • 50 per cent capacity restriction per particular room
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted

Discount and big box retailers can engage in retail sales to the public and must meet the following conditions:

  • Sell groceries to the public
  • Limit the number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public in the business to not exceed 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted

Safety supply stores, businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive / mobility / medical devices, and optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public can operate by appointment only. Curbside pick-up and delivery are permitted.

Stores that sell liquor, including beer, wine and spirits:

  • Limit the number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public in the business so as not to exceed 25 per cent of the particular room
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted

Shopping malls are closed for in-person retail. Members of the public are permitted to enter the mall to:

  • Access businesses and organizations permitted to be open (e.g., pharmacy, dentist); food court open for take-away, or by appointment only to facilitate pick-up as set out below
  • Access court services and government services

Shopping malls may establish a single designated location inside the shopping mall for order pick-up by patrons. Pick-up inside the shopping mall must be by appointment only. There can be any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall for curbside pick-up by patrons.

Members of the public not permitted to loiter in any area of the shopping mall that is not related to the purpose of their visit.

Cannabis retail stores can be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only.

Garden centres can operate with curbside pick-up and delivery permitted.

Motor vehicle sales including cars, trucks and motorcycles; recreational vehicles including motor homes; trailers and travel trailers; boats and other watercraft; and other motorized vehicles, including power-assisted bicycles, golf carts, scooters, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles can operate:

  • By appointment only
  • Members of the public must not be permitted where products are neither sold nor displayed for sale
  • Subject to certain conditions related to test drives

Outdoor markets, including farmer’s markets, and holiday markets only if they primarily sell food, can operate. They must require members of the public to remain outdoors at all times, including for curbside pick-up or delivery.

General Retail (all other retail, including hardware stores, pet food, computer stores, etc.):

  • Curbside pick-up or delivery only (in-person retail shopping not permitted)
  • Sales must be exclusively made so patrons are not required to enter the indoor area of the business, including curbside pick-up or delivery


Personal care services, tour and guide services, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments, museums and cultural amenities: Closed.

Rental and leasing services, including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental by appointment only.

Domestic services are permitted only to support children, seniors or vulnerable persons, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services.

Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services are permitted by appointment only.

Veterinary services are permitted for services that are necessary for the immediate health and welfare of the animal only, or provided through curb side pick-up and drop-off of the animal.

Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences can operate, however, any indoor pools, indoor fitness centres, or other indoor recreational facilities that are part of the operation of these businesses, are closed.

Seasonal campgrounds

  • Must be made available only for trailers and recreational vehicles used by individuals in need of housing or are permitted to be there by seasonal contract
  • Only campsites with electricity, water service and facilities for sewage disposal may be provided for use
  • All recreational and other shared facilities, excluding washrooms and showers must be closed
  • Other areas of the seasonal campground must be closed to the general public and must only be opened for the purpose of preparing the seasonal campground for reopening

Community centres are permitted to open for:

  • The operation of child care centres and authorized recreational and skill building programs within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
  • Mental health and addictions support services (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) permitted to a maximum of 10 people
  • Social services

Financial Services are permitted with safety measures in place including:

  • Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services
  • Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation
  • Insurance
  • Land registration services
  • Pension and benefits payment services
  • Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services

Real estate (including pre-sale construction): No open houses — showing a property permitted by appointment only

Information Technology (IT) services, including online services, software products and the facilities necessary for their operation and delivery are permitted. Telecommunications providers and services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc.) and facilities necessary for their operation and delivery are also permitted.

Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service may only permit members of the public to enter the premises by appointment and only for repairs or technical support.

Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are permitted with Public Health and workplace safety measures.

Construction activities or projects and related services that support construction activities or projects, including demolition services and land surveyors, permitted.

Other permitted services, with Public Health and workplace safety measures in place:

  • Gas stations and other fuel suppliers, automated and self-service car washes,
  • laundromats and drycleaners,
  • snow clearing and landscaping services,
  • security services for residences, businesses and other properties,
  • courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services,
  • funeral and related services,
  • staffing services including providing temporary help,
  • other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters and research facilities, businesses that provide pet training exclusively for service animals,
  • cheque cashing services

City services – see here


Closure of all indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities except for:

  • Facilities operated or for the sole use of high performance athletes, including parasport athletes, and specified professional leagues (e.g., NHL, CFL, MLS, NBA)
  • Facilities opened solely for specified purposes (e.g. child care)
  • Community centres and multi-purpose facilities (e.g., YMCA) allowed to be open for permitted activities (e.g., child care services, mental health and addiction support services [limited to 10 people maximum], social services)

Outdoor recreational amenities permitted to open include:
o Parks and recreational areas
o Baseball diamonds
o Batting cages
o Soccer, football and sports fields
o Tennis, platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts
o Basketball courts
o BMX parks
o Skate parks
o Golf courses and driving ranges
o Frisbee golf locations
o Cycling tracks and bike trails
o Horse riding facilities
o Shooting ranges, including those operated by rod and gun clubs
o Ice rinks
o Snowmobile, cross country, dogsledding, ice-skating and snow-shoe trails
o Playgrounds
o Portions of parks or recreational areas containing outdoor fitness equipment
o Tobogganing hills and skating trails

Any locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses remain closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, a washroom or a portion of the amenity that is used to provide first aid.

Ski hills are closed.

Medical and laboratory

Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and
development activities can operate with health and safety measures in place.

Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities are permitted to be open as well as:

  • Regulated health professionals
  • Professionals or organizations that provide in-person counselling services
  • Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports

Other facilities that can operate with safety measures in place:

  • Laboratories and specimen collection centres
  • Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies
  • Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations
  • Organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities
  • Organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals
  • Businesses that are primarily engaged in the provision of health and safety training with conditions


Sound recording, production, publishing and distribution businesses
Film and television production, including all supporting activities such as hair, makeup and wardrobe are permitted with the following exceptions:

  • No studio audiences permitted to be on the film or television set
  • No more than 10 performers may be permitted to be on the film or television set
  • Set must be configured and operated in such a way as to enable persons on the set to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other
  • persons, except where necessary for the filming of the film or television production (? What does this mean?)
  • Persons who provide hair or makeup services must wear appropriate PPE
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier

Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open for rehearsal, or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with conditions, including:

  • No spectators may be permitted in the concert venue, theatre or cinema
  • No more than 10 performers may be permitted in the concert venue, theatre or venue
  • Every performer and other person who performs work for the concert venue, theatre or cinema must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except if it is necessary for the performers or other persons to be closer to each other for purposes of the performance or rehearsal, or where necessary for the purposes of health and safety
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
  • Contact information recording required
  • No drive-in or drive-through events

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