Stay at Home order – What you need to know
Ontario declares Stay at Home Order
The Province of Ontario has implemented a Stay at Home order in an attempt to curb the number of contacts leading to COVID-19 infections. You can read the official order here.
The order comes with a State of Emergency in effect from January 14th until at least February 11th. The measures during the stay at home order will be in place for at least that long.
The following breaks down some of the key components of the order.
Organized Public Events and Social Gatherings
- No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with).
- Individuals who live alone and single parents may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
- Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings must comply with requirements on physical distancing and face coverings: 5 people outdoors.
Retail and Workplaces
- Retail stores deemed non-essential and those offering curbside pickup and delivery must limit hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- Food stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants selling takeout are exempt from the limit on hours.
- Retailers allowed to open for in-person shopping – including supermarkets, convenience stores, box stores that sell groceries, and discount stores must be able to maintain physical distance between people and require face coverings.
- Retailers limited to curbside pickup can only sell items a customer ordered before arriving.
Schools and Child Care
- Schools in ‘Grey-Zones‘ will remain closed until February 10. These include Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York, and Hamilton.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health will provide advice and an announcement will be made by January 20 regarding the return to in-person learning in all other Public Health Units.
- Students in Grades 1 through 3 must wear masks in school. Masks required outdoors when physical distancing between students isn’t possible.
- Child care for non-school-aged children remains open.
- Construction deemed non-essential closed, including below-grade construction.
- Land surveying and demolition services permitted.
Sports and Recreation
- Concert venues and theatres closed, including for drive-in or drive-thru events.
- Some outdoor recreation spaces can open with conditions, including parks, baseball diamonds, batting cages, sports fields, skate parks, horse-racing facilities, trails, toboggan hills, ice rinks, and shooting ranges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an essential item?
The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. Legally defining what is essential risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being and safety.
What is an essential trip?
The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. That said, we have provided broad categories that people should consider before leaving their home: food, health-care services, including medication, exercise or work, where someone’s job cannot be done at home.
What is essential work?
The stay-at-home order does not define what work or jobs are essential. Rather, it now mandates that anyone who can work from home must now do so. For example, someone working in retail obviously can’t do their job from home and would be permitted to go to work.
Why hasn’t the province defined who can or should work from home?
The Government of Ontario cannot review tens of millions of job descriptions to determine who can work from home. As such, we are relying on the best judgment and common sense of employers to determine who can do so. If an employee believes they should be working from home, they can contact the Ministry of Labour to file a health and safety complaint.
Why can people still gather in groups of five outdoors?
The outdoor gathering limit of five is in recognition of the fact that some people live alone and may require the company or support of others for their mental and physical well-being. Anyone gathering outside is expected to adhere to physical distancing measures and are now strongly urged to wear a mask.
Can people leave home to exercise? Can I go to my local playground or basketball court?
Yes, exercise is considered an essential reason for leaving your home. What that means will be unique to each individual Ontarian: some may wish to go for a walk around the block, while others may wish to go to a local basketball court with their household to shoot some hoops. We recommend that Ontarians consult their local public health unit or municipality to understand what recreational amenities are open in their community.
Can someone living alone still join up with another household?
Yes, they can exclusively join one other household. This is to support their mental health and well-being, as well as to ensure those requiring support continue to have access to essential caregivers.
Is there a time limit for how long people can leave their homes or the number of times someone can leave their home in a day?
No. That said, we’re asking Ontarians to use their best judgement when leaving their home for essential reasons. They should limit the number of stores they go to and spend as little time outside of their home as possible.
Can people travel to their cottages or secondary residences?
Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance of a secondary residence. In the spirit of the stay-at-home order, at this time we are not recommending intra-provincial travel.