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Jan 18, 2021

New Public Health Measures and Restrictions Due to Stay-At-Home Order

In response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Ontario government declared a second state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order that took effect on January 14, 2021, imposing new public health measures and restrictions for at least 28 days.

The Stay-At-Home Order

The stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain home at all times with the exception of certain necessary activities, such as:

  • attending work, if it is not possible to work remotely;
  • attending school and/or childcare;
  • purchasing groceries and/or medications;
  • ·obtaining necessary services such as health care services and government services; and
  • exercising outdoors or walking pets.

Any social gatherings must be outdoors and are limited to a maximum of five people with appropriate physical distancing and face coverings. Weddings, funerals and religious services are still permitted but are limited to a maximum of ten people. If an individual lives alone, he or she may gather with the members of a single household.

Restrictions For Businesses

Businesses must ensure that all employees work from home if they are able. Businesses that are open must ensure all workers are maintaining appropriate physical distancing and wearing face coverings while indoors.

In-store shopping is only permitted at the following stores, with reduced capacity limits:

  • pharmacies and stores that primarily sell food at 50% capacity;
  • big-box retailers that sell groceries at 25% capacity; and
  • stores that sell alcohol at 25% capacity.

Retail stores may remain open for curbside pickup and delivery only, and only between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with certain exceptions. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments may remain open for take-out, drive-through and delivery only. Non-essential construction must not be performed.

Enforcement

All provincial offences officers will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who violate gathering limits. Individuals and businesses who are not following the orders may face the following consequences:

  • $750 for not following an order; and/or
  • $1,000 for preventing others from following an order.

Individuals can be fined up to $100,000 and corporations can be fined up $10 million.

Additional Safety Measures for Toronto Businesses

With Toronto being the epicentre of COVID-19 in Ontario, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a Letter of Instruction to all employers in the City of Toronto on January 4, 2021, ordering  them to implement additional safety measures.

Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health if two or more people in connection with their workplace test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period.

Employers must ensure that workers are physical distancing at all times throughout the workplace. In addition, employers must provide hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities  in the workplace, must implement  frequent cleaning of all high-touch areas, and must ensure all HVAC systems are in good working order.

Employers should also ensure that all employees are aware of income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to miss work to self-isolate due to COVID-19.

written by:  Barbara Green and Articling student Amelia Briggs-Morris.

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