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What you need to know about Ontario’s Stay-At-Home order

Image courtesy of Pixabay

January 14, 2020

By Nick Parker and Talha Hashmani

Amid recent concerns of Ontario implementing a curfew similar to Quebec, the province instead issued a stay-at-home order that took effect late last night.

The order follows a steady spike in COVID-19 cases across the province and calls for stricter measures to combat the increase in confirmed cases. A second provincial state of emergency was also declared.

Some of the key elements of the stay-at-home order include a later start date for public schools, early closing times for non-essential retail stores, and limiting outdoor gatherings to five people.

But among the confusion of what Ontarians can and cannot do, a government memo sent to police chiefs states that police officers will not have the power to stop your car solely to enforce the stay-at-home measures. In fact, according to the memo, you are not obligated to explain to officers why you are not at home.

Despite the seemingly lax enforcement of the stay-at-home orders, here’s what you should know. 

The order states that Ontarians are required to stay inside their homes unless deemed necessary. Exceptions to the requirement are listed under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, published yesterday by the Government of Ontario, which include:

  • Work, school and childcare
  • Obtaining goods and services 
  • Assisting others
  • Health, safety and legal purposes
  • Multiple residences and moving
  • Travel
  • Certain event gatherings
  • Animal needs

Specific rulings are stated under each section. These sections are listed below:

Work, school and childcare
  • Individuals are exempt when working or volunteering positions require the person to leave their residence 
  • Individuals are exempt when attending school or a post-secondary institution.
  • Individuals are exempt when attending or providing childcare.
  • Individuals are exempt when receiving or providing training/ educational needs.
Obtaining goods and services
  • Individuals are exempt when getting food, beverages and personal care items.
  • Individuals are exempt when getting goods or services that are needed for health and safety – which includes health care services and medication.
  • Individuals are exempt when obtaining goods or services that are needed for maintaining and sanitizing households, businesses, means of transportation, or other places (Not specified further).
  • Individuals are exempt when purchasing goods through methods of sale such as curbside pick-up when the business is permitted to do so.
  • Individuals are exempt when going to appointments at permitted businesses (under the Stage 1 order).
  • Individuals are exempt when obtaining services from a financial institution or cheque cashing service.
  • Individuals are exempt when obtaining government services, social and support services, mental health support services or addiction support services.
Assisting others
  • Individuals are exempt when delivering goods or providing care or other support to someone who requires it which includes;
    • Care for someone who is in a congregate care setting and
    • Accompanying someone who requires assistance leaving their home for any purpose listed in the order.
  • Individuals are exempt when taking a child to their parent/ guardian’s house
Health, safety and legal purposes
  • Individuals are exempt when responding to any situation to aid or avoid a health or safety risk of a person, which includes, 
    • Protecting yourself or others from domestic violence
    • Leaving or assisting another person to leave unsafe living conditions 
    • Seeking emergency assistance 
  • Individuals are exempt when exercising as well, which includes,
    • Walking or moving around outdoors  
    • Using an outdoor recreational facility that is permitted to be open
Multiple residences and moving 
  • Individuals are exempt when travelling to another residence which they own if,
    • They intend to be there for less than one day (24 hours) and are attending for one of the purposes listed in the order or, 
    • If the person intends to stay at the residence for at least 14 days or longer
  • Individuals are exempt when going between the homes of their parents, guardians or caregivers as long as the person is under their care.
  • Individuals are exempt when arrangements are made to purchase or sell a residence – which also includes starting or ending residential leases.
  • Individuals are exempt when moving homes/ residences.
  • Individuals are exempt when travelling to an airport, bus station or train station for the purpose of going out of province.
  • Individuals are exempt from attending a gathering which is permitted under the order for the purpose of a:
    • Wedding
    • Funeral
    • Religious service
    • Rite, or
    • Ceremony
  • Individuals are exempt when making necessary arrangements for the purposes of such gatherings.
  • Individuals are exempt when obtaining goods or services that are needed for the wellbeing, or safety of an animal. This includes,
    • Veterinary services
    • Animal food or supplies
  • Individuals are exempt when responding to situations in order to avoid imminent risk to the health or safety of an animal, which includes protecting an animal from abuse
  • Individuals are exempt when walking/ exercising an animal outdoors

The stay-at-home measure does not pertain to individuals who are “homeless”, as stated under subsection 2. The order allows Ontarians to travel to and from their destinations, as stated under subsection 4.

To read more on the details of the stay-at-home order on the Government of Ontario’s website, refer to the following link.

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