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COVID-19 stay-at-home order takes effect across Ontario

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April 8, 2021
By The Canadian Press

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety Human Resources COVID-19 editor pick Lockdown ontario

Understanding how restrictions affect retail, schools, work settings

TORONTO — A stay-at-home order takes effect across Ontario today in response to worsening COVID-19 trends.

Premier Doug Ford announced the move yesterday, saying it was prompted by a surge in cases driven by more infectious variants.

Stores that sell goods such as groceries, cleaning supplies and pharmacy products can remain open but only to sell essential items.

Non-essential retail can open for curbside pickup or delivery only.


The province is declaring the third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic to invoke the new measures.

The changes come after a month-long shutdown announced last week was criticized as too weak to address the third wave of infections.

Here is a look at the new restrictions:


Non-essential retailers are limited to curbside pick-up and delivery between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Delivery is permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Outdoor garden centres, plant nurseries and indoor greenhouses can open for retail sales with a capacity limit of 25 per cent.

Access to shopping malls is limited to curbside pickup and only by appointment.

In-person sales at discount and big box stores are limited to necessary goods like groceries, household cleaning supplies and pharmacy items.

Certain retail stores can open for in-person, appointment-only sales between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., up to 25 per cent capacity.

Those businesses include:

  • safety supply stores
  • businesses that sell, rent or repair medical devices and other aids
  • rental and leasing services for vehicles, machinery and other equipment
  • stores that sell prescription eyewear
  • businesses that sell vehicles, boats and watercraft
  • vehicle and equipment repair services
  • telecommunications service stores offering repairs and technical support.


Schools will remain open during the stay-at-home order, except where local public health units have ordered them to close.

The province says new measures will be introduced following the spring break next week, including:

  • asymptomatic testing at assessment centres between April 12 and April 18
  • confirmation of self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival to school
  • refresher training on safety protocols for students and staff.

The province says it’s also encouraging outdoor education where possible.


The province says health and safety inspections will increase in essential businesses, focusing on regional hot spots for infection.

Employers in regions with high transmission rates will be contacted about expanding rapid COVID-19 testing in workplaces.


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