People in part of Ontario’s most populous region are waking up Monday with a new reality due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, Premier Doug Ford announced that the City of Toronto and Region of Peel, just to its west, would go into lockdown for 28 days.
The announcement came as the province surpassed 100,000 cases of COVID-19. Those in the affected areas had the weekend to prepare.
It was a weekend filled with anxiety for many and Ontario again breaking its old record for the number of daily cases: more than 1,500. Numbers like that were behind Ford’s announcement to lock down Toronto and Peel with the severest of the coronavirus restrictions.
“We can’t risk widespread outbreaks in our longterm care homes. We cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals,” Ford said.
All indoor organized public events and social gatherings are prohibited, and outdoor gatherings and places of worship are restricted to 10 people. Most non-essential business will close, including gyms, bars, casinos, sit-down restaurants and personal care services.
That led to a weekend of panic buying for many willing to brave long line-ups, similar to what occurred in March during the initial pandemic, with streets, shops and malls as busy as if it were the day before Christmas.
"It's crazy for an early morning."
"I'm stockin' up, yeah. I'm stockin' up."
"What can you do? You gotta buy stuff."
"I'm gonna see if I can get some things for my grandchildren."
"Right now I have four kids and I wanna have stuff in the house."
And it wasn’t just shoppers, but retailers who were left surprised and scrambling by the pending lockdown.
"Today has really been the busiest day of the year for us, in store and online."
"It's really hard. We're trying to keep the business going. I don't know for how long."
Toronto Mayor John Tory supports the lockdown.
“Businesss are not happy and I understand that," Tory said. "I mean, they have been through a terrible, terrible time and they’re going to go through another 28 days of a terrible time at a time of the year when things might have been much more buoyant because of Christmas and because of Black Friday. But in the end, you have to have healthy workers to have a healthy economy.”
Bonnie Crombie is the mayor of Mississaugua, the largest city in the Peel Region. She agreed, there was no alternative but a lockdown.
“This has been a very difficult decision for the premier," Crombie said. "I spoke to him personally about it. But it is the right thing to do. Our numbers our skyrocketing, as you know. This is the fifth day this week that Peel has had higher numbers than the City of Toronto.”
Not everything will close. People will still be able to buy essentials.
"Schools will remain open," said Health Minister Christine Elliott. "Child care will remain open. Grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors and dentists offices and other essential services will remain open with capacity limits."
The federal government in Ottawa, along with many hospitals and healthcare providers, have been calling for tougher actions by the provinces to curb the spread of the pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned of a massive spike in cases and recent modeling suggests that under current conditions, Canada could see as many as 20,000 cases a day in December.