ONTARIO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a province wide lockdown starting Boxing Day, (Dec. 26).

The lockdown will remain in place until Jan. 23, but will be lifted for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

Ford says the new public health measures are an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Ford says there has been a 70 per cent increase in hospitalizations and 80 per cent increase in intensive care admissions in recent weeks. Essential services including childcare centres across the province will remain open during the lockdown.

The measures also mean all non-essential businesses must close, and essential businesses that remain open will have strict capacity limits in place.

No indoor public events or social gatherings will be allowed, except with members of the same household.

Schools in Ontario will also have an extended winter break and are not expected to resume in person learning until after Jan. 8. Schools across the province will move to online learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8. In person learning can resume starting Jan. 11 for schools in Northern Ontario.

Ontario reported 2,123 new infections today (Dec. 21).

New projections expect to see 300 intensive care units (ICU) filled in the province within 10-days (double the point where surgeries must be cancelled).

Information suggests lockdowns of up to six weeks could cut Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case counts to less than 1,000.

The provincial lockdown announcement was made at a press conference this afternoon with Health Minister Christine Elliott, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, Chief Medical Officer of Health Doctor David Williams and the President and CEO of Osler Health System Dr. Naveed Mohammad.