On Tuesday, the province announced that Ontario declared a state of emergency for the second time, and issued a “stay-at-home” order to residents across the province because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order, which has come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and will last at least 28 days.
“Under this order, everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips to pick up groceries, or go to medical appointments,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday, adding that walking pets or exercising is still permitted.
The announcement left many people looking for clarification as to what they were and weren’t still permitted to do over the next month, so a government spokesperson provided some clarification on Wednesday.
“Ontario is a big, diverse province,” Travis Kann explained in an email while noting that residents in the city of Toronto would have easier access to online shopping than those in more remote areas.
“As such, and as we have from the very outset of this pandemic, we will continue to rely on the best judgment of Ontarians as they stay at home as much as possible and only leave their homes for essential purposes.”
The province says this is, in part, why they are still allowing curbside pickup despite issuing the stay-at-home order.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past year responding to this pandemic, including the fact that what may be essential to someone in Timmins and how they buy that item may not be essential to someone in downtown Toronto, who can easily buy items online for delivery,” the province update said.
The province said asking the Ontario government to identify what retailers might consider essential “risks leaving many Ontario people out of Toronto or an urban center accessing the necessary goods”.
The government has also said it is also unable to decide what supplies are needed for everyone across Ontario although it has tried to clarify what would be considered a necessary trip.
“We have provided many categories that people should consider before leaving home: food, health care services, including medicine, exercise or work, where public Someone’s work cannot be done at home”.
Ontario will also not say what jobs are necessary but has said that if you can work from home, work from home.
“The Government of Ontario cannot review tens of millions of job descriptions to determine who can work from home,” the update read. “As such, we are relying on the best judgment and common sense of employers to determine who can do so.
“If an employee believes they should be working from home, they can contact the Ministry of Labour to file a health and safety complaint.”
The province says it has not set limits on how often or how long people can leave their homes for needed trips but is asking residents to try to limit the number of stores they visit and in how long.
The new restrictions also allow people to gather in groups of five outdoors, which the government says they are allowing so that people living alone can still have companions or support mentally and physically.
“Anyone gathering outside must adhere to physical avoidance measures and are being encouraged to wear a mask,” the province said.
Single residents are also still allowed to combine with another household selected under new restrictions for similar reasons.
One of the most ambiguous parts of the announcement is whether the basketball courts or courts are still active for residents.
The government says exercise is considered essential although the way Ontario residents choose to do so is individual to each household.
“Some may want to take a walk around the property, while others may want to go to a local basketball court with their household for a few rounds,” the province said.
“We recommend that Ontario residents consult with their local municipal or public health unit to understand what recreational facilities are available in their communities.”
Finally, many have questioned whether residents are allowed to go to their cottage or second-home properties.
“For now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their homes for essential purposes, which may include emergency maintenance of a second residence,” the statement said.
“In the spirit of the command‘ at-home ’, at this time, we do not encourage local travel”.
Under the new ‘at home’ order, schools in the gray areas will continue to close and study online only until February 10th. These areas include Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton.
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