Ontario's new Stay at Home order explained

Jan 13 2021, 4:40 pm

Ontario’s Stay at Home order will be effective Thursday at 12:01 am, and knowing exactly what is and is not allowed can be confusing to fully understand.

The province has released a list of clarifications for residents to understand how the Stay at Home orders differ from the existing lockdown and what must be observed to lower the high COVID-19 case count.

Essential work and outings

The Government of Ontario said they cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province and that legally defining what is essential “risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being and safety.”

When looking at what constitutes as an essential trip, the provincial government provided broad categories which include leaving ones home for: food, healthcare services, including medication, exercise or work, where someone’s job cannot be done at home. 

And when looking at what essential work means the province says the can’t define what jobs are essential but it mandates that anyone who can work from home must now do so. For example, someone working in retail can’t do their job from home and would be permitted to go to work.

If an employee believes they should be working from home, they can contact the Ministry of Labour to file a health and safety complaint.

Curbside pickup

The province is still allowing curbside pickup as many residents in rural and remote areas, as well as urban locations, do not have easy access to a big-box retailer in their community or online shopping.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year responding to this pandemic, including the fact that what may be essential to someone in Timmins and how they buy that item may not be essential to someone in downtown Toronto, who can easily buy items online for delivery,” the province said.


The province has cut down outdoor gatherings from 10 to five people. If someone lives alone, the need for support or company is necessary for mental and physical wellbeing. But anyone gathering outside is expected to adhere to physical distancing measures and are now strongly urged to wear a mask.

Outdoor activity

People can still leave their home to exercise which is considered essential. This can look different for various households, meaning a walk around the block or playing basketball with those in your household is permissible.

“We recommend that Ontarians consult their local public health unit or municipality to understand what recreational amenities are open in their community.”

And when people decide to leave their home there is no time limit for how long they can be outside, or how many trips they can make in a day. However, the province is asking Ontarians to use their “best judgment” when leaving their home and should spend as little time as possible outside.

Travel to cottages or secondary residents 

Right now, the Ontario government is 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,” they state.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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