Ontario Declares Third Emergency, Again Issues a Stay-at-Home Order
Date: April 8, 2021
On April 7, 2021, the Ontario government declared its third emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and issued its second Stay-at-Home Order under that Act, effective April 8 at 12:01 a.m.
Stay-at-Home Order (Order)
The Order is similar in wording to the Stay-at-Home Order issued in January 2021, with some minor modifications.
Under the Order, all persons must remain at the residence at which they are currently residing and may not leave unless it is necessary for a permitted purpose. The list of permitted purposes is broad, and includes:
- going to work, where the employer has determined that the nature of the individual’s work requires attendance at the workplace
- going to the grocery store or pharmacy
- picking up goods through an alternative method of sale, such as curbside pickup
- accessing healthcare services (including vaccinations)
- going to school
- accessing financial services
- responding to or avoiding an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual.
There are other permitted purposes, and readers should consult the Order for the full list.
Note that persons are specifically prohibited from attending at a place or business that is required to be closed, except to the extent that temporary access is permitted by law.
Further Restrictions for Retail Operations
All areas of the province remain under the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 (Shutdown Zone), which have been amended effective April 8, 2021. The amendments impose further restrictions on retail operations, including:
- Non-essential retailers may only operate within specified hours and by using an alternative method of sale that does not permit patrons to enter the indoor premises of the business, such as curbside pick-up (by appointment) and delivery.
- Access to shopping malls is restricted and only permitted for specified reasons, such as accessing a place or business that is permitted to be open, within specified hours. Loitering within the mall is prohibited. For the purpose of patrons picking up an order from a business or place located in the mall (which can be done by appointment only), the mall can either designate a single pick up location inside the mall, or any number of designated pick up locations outside the mall.
- Discount and big box stores may open for in-person retail sales but only for the purchase of grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items and personal care items. The formula for determining capacity limits for in-person shopping is based on the floor area in which the permitted products to be sold are located.
- Certain stores may operate for in-person shopping by appointment only, subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and within specified hours. These include, but are not limited to:
- safety supply stores
- businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices
- specified rental and leasing services
- vehicle equipment and repair
- stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service for the purchase of a cellphone or for repairs or technical support
- outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries.
Readers should consult the text of the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 for full details.
The Ontario government has announced that schools and childcare will remain open for in-person childcare and learning in public health regions where it is permitted.
Note that in the past few days, some public health units have issued orders under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act which order the closure of elementary and secondary schools within their areas of jurisdiction. Specifically:
- Toronto Public Health announced that effective April 7, all elementary and secondary schools in Toronto would be closed and moved to remote learning until at least April 18. Licensed childcare programs will not be permitted to offer care to children whose schools are required to be closed, with the exception of emergency childcare for those who qualify.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit announced that effective April 7, all school boards within that area would be closed and moved to remote learning until at least April 19. This closure does not currently affect childcare located in schools.
- Peel Region Public Health Unit announced that effective April 6, all schools in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga would be closed and moved to remote learning for at least two weeks. Licensed childcare programs will remain open only for children under the age of 6 who are not attending school.
The Ontario government has announced certain initiatives with respect to vaccinations.
The following education workers will be eligible to register for vaccinations beginning the week of April 12:
- education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province
- all education workers in select “hot spot areas,” including priority neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel, which will then be rolled out to other priority neighbourhoods.
As part of its Phase Two Vaccination Distribution Plan, the Ontario government states that it will prioritize vaccinations for persons living in regions with the highest rates of transmission, which will be expanded to “hot spot” regions. It states that to support this effort, “mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over.”
Beginning on April 9, vaccination eligibility will also be extended to those aged 50 or over high-risk areas as identified by postal code.
The province will increase workplace inspections of essential businesses in regional “hot spots.” These will be launched April 9, with inspections of warehouses, food processors and manufacturers in Peel and Halton Regions.
It will also continue to deploy rapid testing for asymptomatic workers in key sectors, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program.
For assistance with how these new requirements may impact your organization, please contact your regular Hicks Morley lawyer.
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