On Monday, February 8, 2021, the Ontario government announced in a press release that it is extending the Stay-at-Home order across most of the province. The government further advised that when it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”).
On Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the following three regions will no longer be subject to the provincial Stay-at-Home order:
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
In light of the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Subject to public health trends, Toronto, Peel and York regions are expected to remain subject to the Stay-at-Home order until Monday, February 22, 2021.
Notably, in an effort to support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. For example, limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, which includes limiting capacity to 25% in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. With limited exceptions, individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing while indoors in a business.
Recognizing the risk posed by variants of COVID-19, the government is also introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit experiences rapid acceleration in transmission. If this occurs, regions may be immediately moved to Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
In addition, the provincial emergency declared under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act will be allowed to terminate at the end of February 9, 2021. While the province-wide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, 2021, the government strongly advises all individuals to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and to limit close contacts to their household.
The government has emphasized that as the province begins to re-open employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home for the time being in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
We will continue to report on the province’s Stay-at-Home order and plans for re-opening as developments occur.