The Ontario government has released the legal parametres of its newly issued stay-at-home order, detailing the reasons why residents may leave their home.
The province says it was published in order to offer more clarification on the measure that has been criticized as too confusing.
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, residents will have to stay home except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, accessing health care and exercising.
The order was announced Tuesday as the province declared a state of emergency — its second of the COVID-19 pandemic — and unveiled a series of new restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.
They include prolonging the pause on in-person learning in schools in five southern Ontario hot spots — Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex — to Feb. 10.
Child-care centres for kids not yet in school will remain open, however.
The government has also restricted hours of operation for non-essential retailers currently offering delivery and curbside pickup to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and imposed a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings.
Wearing a mask is also now recommended outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.
Premier Doug Ford has stressed that the measure means people should use their best judgment to determine if they need to leave their home as COVID-19 rates surge.
You can read the full stay-at-home order here:
The province also says police and bylaw officers will have the power to enforce the stay-at-home order and issue tickets to rule-breakers.
On Wednesday night, the province released more details on enforcement that included three measures:
Requirement to identify
A police or bylaw officer “who has reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that a person is breaking the stay-at-home order can “may require the individual to provide the officer with the individual’s correct name, date of birth and address.” The person “shall promptly comply” and provide their correct details.
Officers can order the temporary closure of a premises if they believe that an “organized public event or other gathering is occurring” there and the number of people attending exceeds the number permitted under the Reopening Ontario Act. Currently, indoor gatherings are not permitted except with those within your household.
Everyone present must comply by “promptly vacating the premises after being informed of the order” and no one should reenter without authorization. This does not apply to anyone living on the premises.
Order to cease attendance or disperse:
Officers can order someone who is attending an organized public event that is prohibited under the Reopening Ontario Act to “cease attending” and order those gathering to disperse and they must promptly comply.
The new restrictions were announced hours after the province released projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system.
One of the experts behind the projections said that if the province’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at five per cent, there will be more than 20,000 new cases reported each day by the middle of next month.
If the rate climbs to seven per cent, that means the province will see 40,000 new daily cases.
The projections also indicate deaths from COVID-19 will surpass those in the pandemic’s first wave unless people dramatically reduce their contact with others.