Province declares state of emergency, issues “stay at home” order

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Ontario residents will be expected to stay home except for “essential trips” beginning Thursday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday that the province is declaring a second “state of emergency” and issuing a “stay at home” order in response to rising cases of COVID-19.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford.

“That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order.

“We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

The “stay at home” order begins at 12:01 am Thursday and will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for “essential purposes,” such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.

“This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household,” the province said in its announcement.

“In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.”

Other measures announced today include:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. “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.”
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.  
  • 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. 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.

“Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 is continuing to spread in our communities, our hospitals, our long-term care homes, and our workplaces. We are continuing to see concerning trends across the province, including a tragic number of deaths,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We have made great strides in vaccinating tens of thousands of Ontarians, and we can’t let these efforts go to waste. Urgent action is required to break this deadly trend of transmission, ensure people stay home, and save lives.”

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce.

In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premises and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order, and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premises has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.

“Extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians as we deal with this growing crisis,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“Our government is providing police and bylaw officers with the tools, and the authority, they need to enforce these critical restrictions and protect public health.”

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