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Now that Premier Doug Ford has pulled the ’emergency brake’ to bring Niagara and the rest of Ontario to a halt starting Saturday, here’s what you need to know:
To close: It comes into effect on Saturday April 3 and will remain in place for at least four weeks;
Where we were, where we are going: Until the end of the day Friday, Niagara remains in the Red Control Zone, the fourth strictest among five color-coded designations implemented by Queen’s Park based on the state of COVID-19 in each region .
With 611 active cases on Thursday, our caseload more than doubled in less than two weeks, so Niagara may well have been brought back to a gray lock – the strictest designation – even without a world-wide shutdown. province;
COVID-19 vaccination clinics: All previously scheduled immunization clinics offered by Niagara Health and Niagara Region Public Health will continue throughout the closure. None were canceled or postponed;
Retail: All stores can remain open, but with fewer shoppers allowed inside. Grocery stores and supermarkets, convenience stores and indoor farmers’ markets, drug stores and other places that primarily sell food have a 50 percent capacity.
All other retailers, from big box stores to small stores, are entitled to 25 percent capacity indoors. LCBO outlets and beer stores will remain open, with capacity limits;
Schools: Schools will remain open, with provincial Education Minister Stephen Lecce calling them “essential for student mental health and learning.”
When students began a four-day Easter weekend on Thursday, no schools in Niagara had been closed due to COVID-19, although 24 elementary and secondary schools were reporting at least one case of COVID and some schools had closed individual classrooms;
Restaurants: Meals inside and on the patio are not allowed. Restaurants, bars and other eating establishments may offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru services only;
Personal care services: Hair salons, barbershops, spas and similar businesses will not be allowed to open during the lockdown;
Sports and leisures: Facilities used for indoor and outdoor sports, including gymnasiums, will be closed to what the province has called “very few exceptions.” Day camps are also closed;
Weddings, funerals and religious services: These are allowed, but with restrictions. Indoors, these are based on a 15% occupancy rate per room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people who can safely maintain a distance of two meters between themselves.
However, events related to these services – such as receptions – are not allowed indoors and are limited to five people outdoors;
Public events organized in halls, social gatherings: Not allowed;
Outdoor events, gatherings: These are limited to a maximum of five people, except for gatherings with members of the same household, or members of a household with a person living alone;
Traveling outside the home: The provincial government wants all people to travel outside the home only when necessary and to work from home when possible.