There’s one place, and that’s home, for the holidays

·3 min read

Sorry, Ontario, but you’re not getting the Christmas present you were hoping for.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide lockdown beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26. Ford said this was a difficult decision but that this temporary, one-time measure should allow more freedom in the future. The majority of the province will be in lockdown for 28 days, with some northern areas locked down for only 14.

This latest pandemic precautionary move by the province takes away the one event Uxbridge could enjoy during the holiday season - the Optimist Club’s Fantasy of Lights at Elgin Park. The new COVID lockdown restrictions are slightly revised from those that were imposed earlier in the pandemic, but the new lockdown prohibits drive through events for entertainment. President of the Optimist Club of Uxbridge, Chris Wilson, says he is sad to see the end of what they have called “a beacon of light in a dark year.”

“We are extremely disappointed to have to end this year early, but we understand the urgency, and as Optimists we are stewards of the law,” says Wilson.

The holiday light display will remain open to the public until 9:30 p.m. Christmas night, Dec. 25.

As COVID numbers continue to rise, with a reported 70 per cent increase in hospitalizations and 80 per cent increase in intensive care unit cases in the past four weeks, the province says this “urgent and immediate action” is needed to support the healthcare system.

Ford reminded the province that with ICU beds at over 100 per cent capacity, there is no space to treat emergencies like car accidents or heart attacks. When asked why the shutdown wouldn’t commence immediately, Premier Ford replied that the delayed start is to help the small business prepare for the shutdown and to get rid of stock, also noting that the hardest hit areas, like Toronto and Peel, are already shut down.

Through this period of lockdown, everyone is asked to stay home unless leaving the house is “absolutely necessary,” says Ford. The province will return to reduced capacity for essential businesses with only curbside pick-up available to all others.

Parents of school-age children will have to wait until the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 4, to learn details about the online learning their children will have to do starting Jan. 5. As of this writing, students in Kindergarten to grade 8 are expected to be back in the classroom on Jan. 11, and high school students will continue learning virtually until Jan. 25.

Along with the lockdown, the province announced a $42 million plan for high priority community support. This includes funding for outreach, better access to testing, transportation and rapid testing.

As everyone draws nearer to the time of holiday gathering, the province urges everyone to keep this year’s festivities to only those in their household bubbles.

"We've flattened the curve before and we can do it again," said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

By Cosmos print time on Monday evening, Durham Region had 911 active COVID-19 cases, with seven of those cases in home isolation in Uxbridge.

Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos