Ontario declares second provincial emergency – what you need to know

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TORONTO – Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the Government of Ontario is issuing a stay-at-home order, reverting restrictions to what has not been seen since March. The stay at home order requires everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, including going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.

“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.”

New restrictions have been levied onto the province which will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions will 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 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. 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.

Up to 300,000 tests will be supplied to key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes. 

Schools in the following public health units (PHUs) will not return to in-person instruction until February 10, 2021:

  • Windsor-Essex
  • Peel Region
  • Toronto
  • York
  • Hamilton

Enforcement

In todays message, a clear message was carried out. “Those not following the order will be fined, prosecuted and can face up to a year in jail,” said Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s Solicitor General said. Bylaw officers now have the ability to close a premise and disperse a crowd.

Over 450 labour inspectors are also rotating throughout the province to identify violations of the emergency order.

Paid sick leave


Those exposed to the virus who become infected will be eligible for federally funded sick leave. “In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care,” the statement said.

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