Premier expected to announce province-wide lockdown Monday, residents weigh in on new measures
KITCHENER -- CTV News has learned that a province-wide lockdown is expected to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26.
The lockdown was originally set to begin on Dec. 24 but was pushed back two days by cabinet on Monday, sources said.
Over the weekend, sources told CTV News that the lockdown was going to be put in place on Christmas Eve.
They said the lockdown will be 28-days for all areas south of Sudbury and 14 days in northern parts of the province.
Premier Doug Ford is expected make that announcement official on Monday.
According to the CTV News sources, the lockdown will be similar to the provincewide shutdown in March where only essential businesses would be allowed to open.
Ontario’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, with the daily total surpassing 2,000 for the past six days.
Lockdowns are already in effect in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex. The province announced Friday that Hamilton would also be added to that list.
GETTING READY FOR LOCKDOWN
On Sunday people in Waterloo Region weighed in on the possibility of a lockdown.
“The province should do whatever is required to get the case numbers down,” says Baden resident Paul Pacheco.
“I think we should go back into a lockdown, especially because the numbers are rising all across the province,” says Daanish Emerson of Kitchener.
With Christmas just around the corner, infectious disease expert Dr. Abdu Sharkawy says the writing was on the wall.
“The trends have not been positive for the past two months. The projections have not been good. Even the best case scenario projections have us at over ICU capacity for the next month.”
The new measures are being called a circuit breaker-type lockdown.
“They would have this lockdown for a certain duration of time and they would reopen, and then after a certain period of time they would do another lockdown,” says Zahid Butt, from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.
Despite high case counts, Waterloo Region has been in the red zone for weeks.
Kristian Manning, the co-owner of Gym 41 in Kitchener, says this time of year is usually one of the busiest for selling memberships. While he’s already seen a major loss in revenue, he also hopes that a lockdown will control rising COVID-19 numbers.
“If the option is: ‘Hey, let’s go into lockdown and let’s get this pandemic under control for once and all,’ I would be totally OK with that. But help out your businesses.”
There are still many questions about what a lockdown will look like in Ontario.
“Are you locking down gyms and small businesses, or are we locking down the city as a whole, where everything gets locked down completely?” asked one resident.
“I think a lockdown would be beneficial,” says Paige Downer of Waterloo. “I think if we took time to reset and go back to where things were in March, to get things under control again, it would be really helpful.”
“I think the province needs to act swiftly and it needs to act decisively,” says Dr. Sharkawy. “It has to give people a sense of certainty that this is not a situation that is static and it will not change between one region that isn’t heavily affected, and another that is not.”
While the lockdown has not been formally announced by the province yet, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says the city has been preparing to respond to whatever measures the government puts in place and that they are in full support of them.
"All our recreation facilities would close down, our community centres would stay open for food distribution and warming centres and for computer access for those who need it in the community," he says. "We do need to make sure there is a sense of equity with our small retailers in terms of this approach, because at the end of the day these businesses are the foundation of our community."
Vrbanovic adds that the lockdown should not be viewed as a punishment, but rather a gift for health-care workers.
"There's no question that all of us understand their pain and their challenges," he says.
The province is also deciding whether to extend the holiday break for students.