Stay-at-home order in place for Ontario
The provincial government has received criticism and numerous questions from Ontario residents regarding the stay-at-home order issued by Premier Doug Ford on Jan. 12 that went into effect on Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m.
The stay-at-home order will remain in place for at least 28 days in an effort to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
“If you’re questioning: should I go out? You’ve got the answer. Stay home. Stay a la Maison,” Ford said on Jan. 13 during a press conference.
Ontarians are required to remain home unless an outing is deemed essential.
The confusion surrounding these rules prompted the release of a list of answers to the most commonly asked questions from the public.
While the government admitted that can’t fully determine what is an essential trip for each person, they included a list of categories that should be considered before leaving a private residence.
The categories included are food, healthcare services, exercise and work that can’t be done at home.
People are permitted to gather in groups of a maximum of five outdoors as long as they adhere to social-distancing protocols and are strongly urged to wear a mask while doing so.
The province has kept this guideline in place in an effort to recognize people who live alone and may need the company of others during this difficult time.
One point of confusion that has frequently been brought up in feedback to the provincial government mandate are the rules surrounding the continued availability of curbside pick-up from local businesses.
A Ford representative addressed the public’s access to curbside pick-up and stated that online shopping options and availability to big-box retailers would vary for individuals depending on their living location within the province.
Curb-side pick-up is therefore deemed essential as a way to appropriately acknowledge the potential limited resources smaller communities outside of urban centres may have access to for needed items such as food.
Exercise has been deemed a vital factor to overall mental and physical wellness, especially during lockdown, and residents are encouraged to contact their local municipalities about the recreational amenities that are open and available.
Restaurants are permitted to remain open for pick-up, drive-thru and delivery.
Trips to cottages and secondary residences are not deemed essential outings and should be avoided entirely unless there is a related emergency, such as maintenance, that can’t be avoided.
Cannabis dispensaries are open for curbside pick-up and delivery only and licensed alcohol distributors remain open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The province-wide shutdown is expected to remain in place until Feb. 11 and has the potential to be extended, depending on the number of active COVID-19 cases.
Individuals or businesses caught breaking COVID-19 rules could face charges that result in fines of up to $880.
More information about Ontario’s stay-at-home order can be found here.