Ontario has extended the provincial Stay-at-Home order and State of Emergency, and introduced several new restrictions intended to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The measures will be in effect for an additional two weeks, and are now set to expire on May 19, Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday afternoon.
Under the Stay-at-Home order, which has been in place since April 8, people must stay at home and only go out for necessities.
These include going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care, getting exercise or walking pets, going to work that can’t be done remotely, or going to school.
While that hasn’t changed with the order’s extension, several restrictions have been changed, and new ones have been implemented.
Without stronger public health measures, new epidemiological modelling data forecasts that Ontario could see 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by the end of April.
Gathering limits and outdoor events
As of 12:01 am on April 17, outdoor social gatherings and public events are only allowed with members of the same household.
People who live alone can gather with only one other household outside.
All outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds, have been closed.
Weddings, funerals, and religious services
As of 12:01 am on April 19, capacity limits at weddings, funerals, and religious services will be limited to 10 people indoors and outdoors. Drive-in services will be permitted.
Social gatherings associated with these events, such as receptions, can only take place with members of the same household.
Capacity at pharmacies and stores that primarily sell food, including supermarkets, grocery stores, and indoor farmer’s markets, has been limited to 25%, down from the previous 50%.
Non-essential construction has been shut down, including projects at malls, office towers, and hotels.
Projects being done on homes, hospitals, and long-term care facilities can continue.
Police officers and provincial offences officers have been given enhanced powers which will allow them to stop individuals and drivers who are not at home.
Officers will be able to ask people their reason for being out, as well as their home address. Anyone who doesn’t answer their questions can be given a $750 ticket.
However, police departments across Ontario have said their officers will not be arbitrarily stopping people or cars.
Exceptions will be made for those who are travelling for work, to access health care services, to transport goods, or are exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.
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The provincial border checkpoints will come into effect at 12:01 am on April 19, as will the changes to capacity limits at weddings and religious services.
All other changes to restrictions, and the enhanced power for police, went into effect at 12:01 am on April 17.
“These urgent actions are targeted at stopping the rapid growth in COVID-19 case rates and relieving mounting pressures on the province’s health care system,” the government said.
To date, Ontario has seen 412,745 COVID-19 cases and 7,698 virus-related deaths.