'How does this make sense?': Ontarians confused about what they can, can't do during Premier Ford's new stay-at-home order

Elisabetta Bianchini
·4 min read

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a second state of emergency, and a stay-at-home order that will go into effect this Thursday.

“Everyone must stay home to save lives,” Ford said.

Schools in Windsor, Peel, Toronto, York and Hamilton will remain closed for in-person learning until Feb. 10. By Jan. 20, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health will provide recommendations for in-class learning for the remaining regions.

What Ontarians can and cannot do

This stay-at-home order means everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing healthcare services, for exercise, or for essential work.

The following additional public health measures will also be put in place:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are restricted to a limit of five people

  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open

  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7:00 a.m. and close no later than 8:00 p.m. - this does not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants offering takeout or delivery

  • Non-essential construction restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health said the province is asking businesses to make sure any employee who can work from home, does so moving forward.

How will these new rules be enforced?

The premier said that “enforcement and inspections will increase” and that “bad actors” will get fined.

The premier spoke about large retailers, big-box stores, that have “crazy line ups.” The province will be starting an “inspection blitz” of these stores in the coming days.

“I promise you, if we find any issues there will be consequences, “ Ford said. “We’ll come down hard on these big box stores if we have to and this enforcement, it will continue for as long as necessary.”

Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s solicitor general, said if employees in occupational and retail settings are found to not be complying with the order, enforcement personnel have the authority to issues a fine. They also have the authority to disperse crowds, both indoors and outdoors.

“If people are found not complying with these orders they will be subject to fines and prosecution,” Jones said, adding that this may include up to a year in jail.

How are people in Ontario reacting to the new order?

People in Ontario shared their thoughts about the stay-at-home order and new measures on Twitter, many indicating that they are not satisfied with the information being provided by the provincial government.

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