What you can and cannot do during Ontario's shutdown

The Ontario government activated its “emergency brake” on Thursday, effectively thrusting the province into a month-long shutdown starting on Saturday.

The shutdown is similar to the restrictions in the strictest grey “lockdown” tier of the province’s COVID-19 framework, with a few modifications to further limit gatherings and close in-person dining.

While a stay-at-home order has not been issued, the government continues to encourage residents not to travel outside of their home except for essential reasons.

Here are the new rules under the shutdown:


Indoor gatherings are prohibited. Ontario residents should only get together indoors with people they live with

Residents may get together with a maximum of five people outdoors, as long as they can remain physically distant from one another

Weddings, funerals and religious services will be restricted to 15 per cent capacity per room indoors. If the ceremony and service is held outdoors, it is restricted to an unlimited number of people as long as two metres of distance can be maintained.All receptions linked to these events must abide by social gathering restrictions mentioned above.


Essential stores such as supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies can open with a 50 per cent capacity limit.

All other stores, including big box stores that don’t sell food primarily as well as liquor and cannabis retailers, will remain open with a 25 per cent capacity limit.

Shopping malls are restricted to a 25 per cent capacity per store as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Dining spaces will remain closed and music must be low enough for normal conversation to be possible. Indoor shopping malls must actively screen all patrons before they enter.

Restaurants and bars

In-person dining is now prohibited, both inside and outdoors. Restaurants and bars may only provide takeout, delivery and drive-thru service.


The province has said that elementary schools, high schools and child-care centres will remain open throughout the shutdown. Teachers and students will be able to take their planned spring break in April.

Day camps, however, remain closed.

Virtual instruction will be used at post-secondary institutions, with exceptions where in-person instruction is required. In the event in which in-person learning is required, each room will be limited to 10 people.


Gyms, as well as outdoor classes, are closed to the public under shutdown. However, outdoor recreational amenities such as baseball diamonds, soccer fields, tennis courts and golf courses are allowed to open as long as physical distance is maintained and no team sports are played.

Recreational facilities will only open for the training of high-performance athletes. Locker rooms, change rooms and showers remain closed.

Community centres will remain open for child-care, mental heath and addiction services and social services. It will also be open for physical therapy for people with disabilities.


All regulated health professionals are allowed to provide services to the public, including providers that deliver home care as well as those that work in laboratories, manufacturing or distribution of medical supplies.


Personal care services are prohibited.

Motor vehicle sales are allowed. But members of the public cannot be in any areas where vehicles are not displayed for sale. Vehicle testing is limited to no more than 10 minutes with a maximum of two people in the car, with the windows open.

In-person driving instruction is only permitted for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

Equipment and machinery rental is allowed.

Gas stations and other fuel suppliers, including automated or self-service car washes will remain open.

Laundromats and drycleaners remain open.

Domestic services that support children or vulnerable people, such as housekeeping, cooking and cleaning are allowed.

Veterinary and pet services including boarding kennels, animal shelters, dog an d pet walkers are all allowed.

Financial services will be permitted.

Transportation services are all permitted.

All community services, including emergency services, waste collection, sewage treatment, and social services, will continue to operate.

Real estate and rentals:

Open houses are prohibited. Property viewings can take place by appointment only.

Short term rentals will only be provided to “individuals who are in need if housing.”

Seasonal campgrounds

Only campsites with electricity, water services and facilities for sewage disposal may be provided. All recreational facilities on the campground, other than washrooms and shower, must be closed.

Maintenance and construction

Property repair and maintainance is allowed

All construction and related supporting services are permitted.

Manufacturing and production

Businesses are allowed to stay open if they extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials. They are also allowed to remain open if they support and facilitate the movement of goods.

Agriculture and food production will continue to operate

Media industries

Film production is allowed to continue to operate without studio audiences/No more than 50 performers may be on a film or television set. Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.


Libraries may continue to operate using curbside pickup or delivery. Materials returned to the library must be disinfected or quarantined before they are recirculated.

Child-care services, mental health and addiction supports and social services are allowed to take place in these locations.


The following businesses must remain closed: Amusement parks, water parks Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments, Concert venues, theatres and cinemas (includes drive in or drive through events) Museums and cultural amenities, Tour and guide services , zoos and aquariums (outside of animal care).

A full more comprehensive list of the shutdown restrictions can be found here.