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Ontario announced 939 new positive COVID-19 cases today, its highest daily case count to date. This comes as the province conducted over 44,900 tests and as they continue to ramp up testing across Ontario, in the face of a significant backlog and limited contact tracing. 

The new restrictions were approved in an emergency Cabinet meeting earlier today. 

Announced by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Williams, the new restrictions are considered a “Modified Stage 2” for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa for at least the next 28 days, beginning this Saturday, October 10, 12:01am. 

The restrictions include: 

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained (including in private residential homes). The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls
  • Closing of indoor gyms and fitness centres, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, spectator areas in racing venues, and interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.
  • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming)
  • Reducing the capacity limits for:
    • Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
    • Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained
    • In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
    • Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and
  • Team sports can only have training sessions, no games or scrimmages
  • As of October 13, at 12:01 am, wedding receptions will be subject to the new gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors

These new restrictions come as many small businesses attempt to recover from closures in place in the early stages of the pandemic, and will almost certainly plunge them into further difficulty.

To address these challenges, the Ontario government announced it will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills. 

As many Ontarians head into the Thanksgiving weekend with likely smaller family gatherings, it is still anticipated the case numbers will continue to rise as the province clears through a testing backlog and increases the number of tests performed each day. 

In anticipation of today’s shutdown measures in Ontario, the Prime Minister and Federal Finance Minister announced further business support this morning as a number of provinces see case numbers climbing and introduce further restrictions:

  • Replacing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program with the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, available until June 2021 to provide rent support directly to businesses who have lost significant income due to the pandemic.
    • Up to 65% of eligible expenses (rent and mortgage) for those who have lost over 70% of revenue, and up to 90% for those temporarily shut down by mandatory public health order. 
    • Unlike the CECRA, the program will not require landlords to apply.  It will be administered via Canada Revenue Agency, much like the CEWS.
  • Extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) through the end of June, 2021, at an increased level to cover up to 65% of eligible wages until December 19.  
  • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) with additional $20,000 in interest-free loans, up to $10,000 of which can be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The deadline to apply has been extended to the end of December 2020.
  • Doubling pandemic food supports with an additional $100 million for the Emergency Food Security Fund to help food banks and Indigenous organizations provide food for vulnerable Canadians.
  • $41.4M to air carriers in the three northern territories to support food supply and medical care services.