What you need to know for the new stay at home order

Doug Ford

It's day one of the province's 28-day stay at home order, and we're getting further clarification about what it will look like.

We'll break down the details, but essentially what you need to know is what political leaders and health officials have been preaching — stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday that people should use their best judgement, but if you're about to do something, you ask yourself if it's essential or necessary, and the answer is not an "emphatic yes", then don't do it.

STAY HOME

The provincial order states that every person needs to remain in their homes at all times unless leaving for an essential purpose. Those purposes include work, school, and childcare. 

People can also leave their homes to obtain goods and services, like grocery shopping, picking up medications, or curbside pickup of an item. As long as the business is permitted to be open under the order, people can leave home for attending an appointment, going to the bank, and accessing mental health or addiction supports.

Assisting others is also considered an essential reason for leaving home — delivering goods or providing care to someone who requires it, taking a child to their parent or guardian's home, and taking someone within your household to somewhere they need to be.

Anyone protecting themself or others from domestic violence or an unsafe condition is also an exception to the order.

Exercising outdoors or using an outdoor recreation facility, like an ice rink, that's allowed to be open is also permitted under the order.

Questions have been raised about what this means for travelling between residences you may own, along with moving, but both of those are allowed under the order, with precautions.

Someone who wants to go to another residence they have can do so if they intend to be there less than 24 hours and they're going for an essential reason. Or, they can do so if they plan on being there for at least 14 days. For example, you can go to your cottage if it needs an emergency fix and it won't take longer than a day trip.

People can also leave to travel between the homes of parents, guardians or caregivers.

Anyone who's moving residences can leave their home to do so, and for appointments related to that.

As for gatherings, only a handful are allowed. You can leave home to attend a wedding, funeral or religious service that is permitted under the order.  If you live alone, you can gather with members of one other household.

You can only attend gatherings that are permitted under the order.

Veterinary services, getting pet supplies, walking your animal, or doing anything necessary for their health are all valid reasons to leave the house.

CLARIFICATIONS

In the order, exceptions are made for individuals experiencing homelessness. Anyone that leaves their home for any of the reasons in the order is expected to return to their residence.

People can still access the outside of their property like a backyard, or common areas of communal residences that are open — like apartment lobbies.

The provincial government also released a list of clarifying points yesterday:

Why is the province issuing a stay-at-home order while also permitting curb-side pickup?
 
This question assumes every single person in Ontario has easy access to online shopping or that there is a big-box retailer in their community. This isn't the case for many Ontarians who live in rural and remote areas. 
 
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 Government of Ontario determining what retailers may be considered essential risks cutting off many Ontarians who don't live in Toronto or an urban centre from access to necessary goods.
 
What is an essential item?
 
The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. Legally defining what is essential risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being and safety.
 
What is an essential trip?
 
The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations. That said, we have provided broad categories that people should consider before leaving their home: food, health-care services, including medication, exercise or work, where someone's job cannot be done at home.
 
What is essential work?
 
The stay-at-home order does not define what work or jobs are essential. Rather, it now mandates that anyone who can work from home must now do so. For example, someone working in retail obviously can't do their job from home and would be permitted to go to work.
 
Why hasn't the province defined who can or should work from home?
 
The Government of Ontario cannot review tens of millions of job descriptions to determine who can work from home. 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.
 
Why can people still gather in groups of five outdoors?
 
The outdoor gathering limit of five is in recognition of the fact that some people live alone and may require the company or support of others for their mental and physical well-being. Anyone gathering outside is expected to adhere to physical distancing measures and are now strongly urged to wear a mask.
 
Can people leave home to exercise? Can I go to my local playground or basketball court?
 
Yes, exercise is considered an essential reason for leaving your home. What that means will be unique to each individual Ontarian: some may wish to go for a walk around the block, while others may wish to go to a local basketball court with their household to shoot some hoops.
 
We recommend that Ontarians consult their local public health unit or municipality to understand what recreational amenities are open in their community.
 
Can someone living alone still join up with another household?
 
Yes, they can exclusively join one other household. This is to support their mental health and well-being, as well as to ensure those requiring support continue to have access to essential caregivers.
 
Is there a time limit for how long people can leave their homes?
 
No. That said, we're asking Ontarians to use their best judgement when leaving their home for essential reasons. They should limit the number of stores they go to and spend as little time outside of their home as possible. 
 
Is there a limit on the number of times someone can leave their home in a day?
 
No. That said, we're asking Ontarians to use their best judgement when leaving their home for essential reasons. They should limit the number of stores they go to and spend as little time outside of their home as possible.
 
Can people travel to their cottages or secondary residences?
 
Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance of a secondary residence. In the spirit of the stay-at-home order, at this time we are not recommending intra-provincial travel.

FULL ORDER: