Ontario’s new Stay at Home order is now in effect.
Starting Thursday, residents must stay home and only go out for essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing healthcare services, for exercise or for essential work.
In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home.
The province has not explicitly defined what essential work is, but said if one can work from home then they must. And even with outdoor recreational activities still open, like skating rinks, it’s still advised to not use them, unless essential for physical exercise or mental wellbeing.
Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. According to the province, this is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in Spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
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Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. And are asked to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible outside.
In addition, all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 am and close no later than 8 pm. However, the restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
Enhanced enforcement will be implemented with the stay at home order and for those not following the new and existing measures. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA) and EMCPA.
Under both acts, fines are subject up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment, $500,000 for individuals in charge of a business and up to one year in jail.
Corporations that do not follow rules could also face a fine of up to $10,000,000.
While it can be confusing to know what is and is not allowed, the province provided some clarifications with Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory emphasizing to just stay home, and when in doubt if the trip is necessary, don’t go.