Stay-at-Home Questions Answered

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Ontario's Premier is denying a new government order requiring people to stay at home, except for essential activities, is confusing.

Doug Ford faced multiple questions at a news conference on Wednesday about what constitutes as an essential trip? Critics have also said the grounds for enforcement are unclear and has yet to be spelled out.

In an attempt to answer some of the question, Ford said that Ontarians are being asked to use their best judgment to determine if they need to leave their home amid soaring new cases of COVID-19.

The following are some answers provided by the province;

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.

 

The following questions were asked and answers gathered by CTV News;

I booked a short-term rental getaway. Can I still go?
No. The province says that pre-arranged bookings for short-term rentals at hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts are prohibited, with exceptions for housing requirements.

Is a housekeeper still allowed in my home?
Yes. Domestic services like housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services are allowed but only to support children, seniors and vulnerable persons.

What about real estate showings?
Real estate showings, including pre-sale construction, are only available by appointment. Open houses are prohibited.

Can I get my car serviced or buy a new vehicle?
According to the government, vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services are available by appointment only. The same applies to the sale of all motor vehicles.

Are cannabis dispensaries still open?
Yes. Cannabis dispensaries are open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, but only from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As well, an item can only be provided for curbside pickup if the patron ordered the item before arriving at the business premises.

What about alcohol sales?
You can still purchase alcohol at a licensed retailer, but only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

How will the government know who is out for legitimate reasons and who isn't?
The province said that residents will have a duty to identify themselves when a police officer has "reasonable and probable grounds" that there has been a breach of the orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

— With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News

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