This Version Posted: January 14, 2021
On Jan. 12, 2021, the provincial government announced a second State of Emergency is in effect in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials.
- Click here for full details on current restrictions and public health measures under the State of Emergency that impact individuals and businesses.
These measures are in effect for the time-being. The Province will monitor key public health indicators around COVID-19 to determine whether or not to extend the emergency. Read on for further details.
On This Page:
- Key Highlights
- Additional Resources
In response to rising COVID-19 cases locally and across Ontario, the Province is declaring a State of Emergency. Strict measures are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the impact on hospitals, long-term care homes and other health care services. Failure to follow these restrictions could lead to tickets or fines.
This order takes effect on Jan. 14, 2021. It requires everyone to stay at home, with the goal of reducing people’s mobility and contact with others outside their household in order to cut rising COVID-19 rates in Ontario. Do not gather with anyone outside your immediate household and only leave your home for:
- Groceries, medicine and other essentials
- Accessing health care services
- Assisting others
- Exercise (including walking the dog)
- Essential work. NOTE: Businesses and organizations must ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home.
- School and child care.
- Getting items and services needed for the health and safety of animals.
- Gathering for a wedding, funeral, or religious service.
- Other exemptions as outlined in the Stay-at-Home regulation (O.Reg.11/21).
NOTE: Anyone who lives alone will still be able to spend time (have close contact) with one other household to reduce the impacts of isolation.
Anyone not complying with the stay-at-home order could face fine or prosecution.
If you must leave your home to go out for essentials, ensure you follow all public health measures such as: staying 2 metres apart from others and wearing masks/face coverings (ensuring they cover your nose, mouth and chin; scarves and bandanas are insufficient).
Other Public Health Restrictions
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. The old limit had been a maximum of 10 people.
- Individuals MUST wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open for shopping (with limited exceptions for age and medical reasons).
- NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
- Most non-essential retail stores can continue to be open for curbside pickup or delivery. However, these non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, can only be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
- Restricted hours of operation do not apply to grocery stores (including other retailers that primarily sell food), pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. These essential businesses can remain open for in-person shopping, but must continue to follow all public health control measures, including capacity limits (maximum of 50%) and ensuring customers wear masks/face coverings and practise physical distancing.
- Discount retailers and big-box stores that sell groceries can open for in-person shopping, as well as curbside pickup and delivery. However, they MUST ensure customers stay at least two metres apart and limit themselves to a maximum 25% capacity.
- Restaurants/bars can remain open for takeout, drive-through and delivery. No indoor dining is allowed.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
- All gyms, fitness clubs and recreational facilities remain closed.
- Outdoor recreational amenities such as ice rinks, parks, playgrounds, tobogganing hills, trails (including for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing) and basketball courts can stay open, provided users follow all public health guidelines (e.g. physical distancing, capacity limits).
- Ski hills remain closed.
- All concert venues, theatres and cinemas are closed, including for drive-in or drive-through events.
- Public libraries can open for contactless curbside, delivery and pickup.
- Museums and cultural amenities remain closed.
- Businesses must have COVID-19 safety plans in place and make them available upon request. This sample COVID-19 Safety Plan for Community Partners, Businesses and Service Providers may be of use.
- All businesses or places that are open must do frequent cleaning and disinfecting to ensure areas open to the public are kept in sanitary conditions.
- Workplaces must do COVID-19 screening for any workers or essential visitors entering the work premises. The screening tool should ask if staff or visitors have any COVID-19 symptoms. This screening tool could be done electronically or using a paper-based resource like the sample provided here. The Ministry of Health also has an online COVID-19 Screening Tool for Employees and an online COVID-19 Screening Tool for Customers that may be of use.
Religious Services, Weddings and Funerals
- No more than 10 people are allowed inside (or outside) for weddings, funerals and other religious services
- For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending MUST ensure physical distancing, wear masks or face coverings that cover their nose, mouth and chin, and follow proper health and safety rules.
- Virtual services are permitted, and encouraged especially due to Stay-at-Home order.
- Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies are permitted, subject to certain conditions.
Schools and Child Care Centres
- Teacher-led remote learning continues for students in southern Ontario. Schools in northern Ontario will remain open.
- All schools in the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto, Windsor-Essex, Hamilton, York Region and Peel Region will not return to in-person instruction until at least Feb. 10, 2021.
- By Jan. 20, the Chief Public Health Officer of Health will advise when in-person learning for students in southern Ontario (including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes) can resume in schools.
- New COVID-19 health and safety measures will take effect when in-person learning resumes in schools. These measures include:
- Masks and face coverings must now be worn by Grades 1-3 students. Requirements are also in place for mask use outdoors.
- Enhanced screening protocols
- Expanded targeted testing
- Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.
- Increased education and enforcement checks/inspections for workplaces will be carried out by Ministry of Labour inspectors to ensure compliance with all COVID-19 safety rules
- The Province is giving increased enforcement powers to the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, municipal bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not obey the stay-at-home-order or do not wear a mask or face covering indoors. Businesses and companies could also be penalized for failing to follow the rules/orders.
- Anyone who does not obey the new emergency orders could face a ticket, fine or prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to key questions about Ontario’s State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home order:
- Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives – Government of Ontario News Release (Jan. 12/21)
- Enhancing Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures in the Province-Wide Shutdown – Detailed guidance document for individuals and businesses provided by Ontario government
- Support Services/Resources for Seniors and Persons With Disabilities During Provincial Shutdown
- COVID-19 Information – Ontario Government website
- COVID-19 Safety Plan for Community Partners, Businesses and Service Providers – HKPR District Health Unit
If you have further questions, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5020, or email: email@example.com