Update (April 17, 2 pm): Ontario Premier Doug Ford has extended the stay-at-home order for two more weeks. He also announced stricter public health measures as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and intensive care unit admissions rise rapidly.
Effective Saturday, April 17, at 12:01 am, Ontario will:
- Prohibit all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household;
- Close all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector;
- Reduce capacity limits to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and,
- Close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts and soccer fields with limited exceptions. (Note: the province has removed the ban playgrounds)
Effective Monday, April 19 at 12:01 am, the government will
- Limit the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions are prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.
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The order, which takes effect at 12:01 am on April 8, will last four weeks. During this period, Ontarians are required to remain at home and only go out except for essential reasons, which includes going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), outdoor exercise, to attend school or to go to work that cannot be done remotely. See the full list of 29 essential reasons here.
With variants of concern causing a surge in new COVID-19 cases, Ford said the measures are needed to protect the health-care system from becoming overwhelmed. Patients in the GTA are now being flown to other parts of the province for care due to capacity issues. Ford also said intensive care unit admissions are increasing faster than the worst-case scenario predicted by experts.
“Things are extremely, extremely serious right now and I’m extremely concerned,” Ford said.
The new stay-at-home order is similar to the previous one that expired in March – with a few exceptions. Grocery stores and pharmacies will continue to have in-person shopping with restrictions. However, this time big-box stores will only be able to sell essential items, such as groceries, medicine, personal care items, cleaning supplies and pet supplies.
Outdoor garden centres can remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
Non-essential retailers must also close for in-person shopping, but can operate from curbside pick-up from 6 am to 9 pm. Shopping malls will be limited to specific purposes, such as access to designated pick-up locations via appointment. Enforcement of residential evictions will also be suspended while the order is in effect.
A list of the new measures is below.
Measures include, but are not limited to:
- Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 am and 8 pm, with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 am and 9 pm, and other restrictions;
- Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
- Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
- Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 am and 8 pm. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 am and 9 pm:
- Safety supply stores;
- Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
- Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
- Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
- Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
- Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
- Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
- Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 am and 8 pm.
The enforcement of residential evictions is suspended while the stay-at-home order is in effect. However, eviction hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board will continue.
Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions with strict safety measures in place. However, medical officers of health in Toronto and Peel Region have issued section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to close elementary and secondary schools. Toronto’s school closure began on April 7 and will last until at least April 18.
Provincial health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will step up inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in hot zones. To date, there have been 19,500 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations in 2021.