Regions with the highest case counts face tough restrictions through December.
Following an announcement from the Ontario provincial government, the City of Toronto and Peel Region (the areas of the province which have seen the highest spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks) were sent into a 28-day lockdown on November 23.
Under the province’s multi-tiered framework of pandemic restrictions, this fifth and final phase requires that non-essential businesses close their facilities with services limited to delivery or pickup. Additionally; it requires that places of worship be restricted to 10 people or less, while those businesses that are considered essential are limited to half capacity.
Many small businesses have expressed frustration at the measures, especially those with small showrooms or facilities that often only have a few people in at one time during the course of the day.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has proposed what it calls a small business first retail strategy, which instead of requiring small businesses to completely close their shops or showrooms, would allow them to serve three customers at a time, with a maximum of three staff members present.
In the automotive sector, pandemic restrictions have impacted business considerably during the course of 2020, though during the latest Toronto and Peel Region lockdowns, service centres and dealerships—having been declared essential businesses—are still open, though physical activities are being restricted, with showrooms and reception areas limited to in-person encounters by prior appointment only.
The current Toronto and Peel Region lockdowns are expected to remain in force until December 21, with individuals facing fines of up to $750 for violating the rules.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the latest restrictions were introduced due to the alarming rates at which COVID-19 was spreading in certain areas of the province and such measures were necessary to prevent overwhelming the health care system.
According to Public Health Ontario, the province had a total of 106,510 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on November 24, with 1,019 new cases as of that date.