What you need to know about Ontario's new COVID-19 restrictions
People pass by a hospital emergency in Toronto on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Published Tuesday, January 12, 2021 1:54PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 12, 2021 4:46PM EST
The Ontario government has issued a new state of emergency order and a raft of new restrictions as it works to combat a surge in COVID-19 infections that Premier Doug Ford says has put the health care system “on the brink of collapse.”
Here is what you need to know:
State of emergency
- The province has issued a state of emergency, effective immediately. The Ford government declared its first state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17. It remained in effect until July 14. A total of 47 emergency orders were issued under that state of emergency.
Stay at home order
- The government is issuing a stay-at-home order that will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. It will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, will not be allowed to open earlier than 7 a.m. or close after 8 p.m. Stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and restauraunts open for takeout or delivery will be exempted.
- Outdoor public gatherings and social gatherings of more than five people will be prohibited. Previously, up to 10 people were allowed to gather outdoors.
- Schools in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex will not return to in person instruction until at least Feb. 10
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education by Jan. 20 on which public health units elsewhere in southern Ontario will be allowed to resume in-person learning the following week
- Students in Grades 1-3 will now be required to wear masks. Masks will also be required outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained. The province is also expanding screening protocols and targeted testing at schools
- Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open
- Child care remains suspended for school-aged children in areas where in-person learning is on hold, with the exception of emergency centres for the children of essential workers
- Construction deemed non-essential closed, including below-grade construction
- Each person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely except where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace
- The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will conduct a workplace inspection blitz with a particular focus on “areas of high transmission, including break rooms
- The province will provide up to 300,000 rapid COVID-19 tests per week to key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes
- The province is now recommending that residents wear masks outdoors when they can’t maintain two metres of physical distance