Ontario extends all emergency orders, including limits on social gatherings

Ontario has extended all emergency orders in the province, including restrictions on social gatherings, until May 29.

The emergency orders currently in place restrict social gatherings of more than five people, the closure of bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings. 

While extending the emergency orders, the Ontario government also announced Tuesday it will now allow people to attend drive-in religious gatherings, as long as a series of strict guidelines are followed. 

The guidelines include keeping vehicles two metres or more apart, only members of the same household can be in one vehicle, people will not be able to leave their vehicles, and no more than five people can conduct the service at one time from outside a vehicle and they must stay at least two metres apart.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said Tuesday that while the order restricting gatherings of more than five people will remain in place until May 29, he hopes to make an announcement later this week about expanding that number. 

“We have been talking to our scientists, various modellers and experts. We are looking at what our various counterparts are doing across the country,” Williams said. “We hope to have something to announce in regards with that perhaps later this week but we are still in the process of reviewing and coming up with those recommendations.”

On Tuesday, Ontario entered the first stage of its reopening process, which allows for retail stores, with a street-front entrance, to begin operating again. Stage one also permits the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sport facilities.

Full list of businesses that can reopen today

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will not reopen on Tuesday and will be part of the later stages of the recovery plan, the government said.

"Although we are entering the first stage of our framework to reopen the economy, it's critical that we continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement Tuesday morning. "The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus." 

The Ontario government declared a provincial state of emergency on March 17, which has also been extended until June 2. 

The government also announced on Tuesday that Ontario's public schools will not reopen until September. The provincial government made the announcement at Queen's Park, saying that online learning will continue for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year and in-person classes will not resume until after the summer break.