The Ontario government has issued a stay-at-home order for the province beginning on Jan. 14 and has immediately declared a second state of emergency.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday at Queen’s Park that the new stay-at-home order, which will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, will require everyone to remain at home, with the exception of essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, accessing health-care services, exercising, or essential work.
The stay-at-home order will remain in effect for at least 28 days. Unless an outing is considered essential, Ontario residents are being ordered to stay home at all hours.
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the government is allowing all enforcement and provincial offence officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors, to issue tickets to those who do not comply with the stay-at-home order.
Ontarians caught violating the stay-at-home order could face a fine and prosecution under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Emergency Management (EMPCA).
Penalties for breaking the stay-at-home order could include up to a year in jail, according to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“Let me be clear, if people are found not complying with these orders, they will be subject to fines and prosecution,” Jones said. “We are taking the current situation very seriously and we ask that all Ontarians do the same.”
As part of the new restrictions, non-essential employees who are currently working in-person will be required to work from home.
Schools staying closed in hot spots until Feb. 10
Schools in Toronto, York Region, Hamilton, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex will also not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.
The government said that by Jan. 20, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams will advise the Ministry of Education on which regions will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling.
Schools in northern Ontario will remain open to in-person learning.
Students as young as Grade 1 will now be required to wear masks when attending in-person learning.
As part of the new rules, all non-essential retail stores,