For those looking to take advantage of Boxing Day sales across Ontario, most will likely have to stick to shopping online as a shutdown ordered by the Ontario government due to rising coronavirus cases comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
While the Ontario government will allow in-person shopping at supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies, those businesses must cap the number of customers at 50 per cent of approved capacity.
Discount and big-box businesses that sell groceries can operate, but capacity is limited to 25 per cent of the approved capacity “of the particular room.”
Other retail businesses, hardware stores and department stores will only be allowed to open for curbside pickup and delivery. Customers will not be allowed inside to do in-person retail shopping.
The restrictions come amid a strain facing Ontario’s hospitals as a result of the pandemic.
In a joint statement released on Thursday by Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, they reported there has been a 74-per-cent increase in hospitalizations over the past four weeks and an 80-per-cent increase of patients being admitted to intensive care units.
“The situation in our hospitals is serious and a reflection of the growing spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We need to halt the virus in its tracks to protect our loved ones, our vulnerable, our communities, and the essential workers whose dedication and sacrifice has never waivered,” they wrote, touting the arrival of 53,000 doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine and the rollout of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses.
“We know that people are making tremendous sacrifices, especially during this holiday season, but there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel.”
The restrictions coming into effect on Saturday will be in place for 14 days in northern Ontario and 28 days in southern Ontario. Officials said the regulations will be evaluated later on “to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if [those] need to be extended.”