A look at new restrictions under Ontario’s stay-at-home order

Published January 12, 2021 at 10:15 pm


TORONTO — Ontario has declared a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order that will take effect Thursday in response to surging COVID-19 infections that threaten to overrun the health-care system. 

Residents will be required to stay home, leaving only for essentials like work, food, health-care services, work or exercise, for at least 28 days.

The state of emergency gives police and bylaw officers authority to enforce the public health rules with tickets.

Here’s a look at what the new restrictions mean. 


— Indoor social gatherings and events barred except among people in the same household.

— Outdoor gatherings limited to five people, with “limited exceptions.”

— Religious services, weddings, funerals and other ceremonies limited to 10 people with physical distancing and face coverings.


— Employers should ensure all employees work remotely, unless their jobs can only be done on site.

— The government says it will provide up to 300,00 rapid COVID-19 test per week to open workplaces, including long-term care homes, schools, manufacturing, warehouses and food processing.


— Masks recommended outside when physical distance of more than two metres can’t be maintained.

— Businesses open for sales must require people to wear masks inside. 


— Retails stores deemed non-essential and those offering curbside pickup and delivery must limit hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

— Food stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants selling takeout are exempt from the limit on hours. 

— Retailers allowed to open for in-person shopping — including supermarkets, convenience stores, box stores that sell groceries and discount stores — must be able to maintain physical distance between people, and require face coverings. 

— Retailers limited to curbside pickup can only sell items a customer ordered before arriving. 


— Schools in Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York and Hamilton closed for in-person learning until Feb. 10. Before- and after-school programs can resume on that date.

— Advice on the return date for in-class learning in other public health units will be announced Jan. 20; schools in northern health units that resumed in-class lessons this week remain open.

— Students in Grades 1 through 3 must wear masks in school.

— Masks required outdoors when physical distancing between students isn’t possible. 

— Further COVID-19 screening protocols may be introduced in schools and daycares as recommended by the province’s chief medical officer of health. 

— Child care for non-school-aged children remain open.


— Construction deemed non-essential closed, including below-grade construction.

— Land surveying and demolition services permitted. 


— Concert venues and theatres closed, including for drive-in or drive-thru events.

— Some outdoor recreation spaces can open with conditions, including parks, baseball diamonds, batting cages, sports fields, skate parks, horse-racing facilities, trails, toboggan hills, ice rinks and shooting ranges. 

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