Your questions about Ontario’s enhanced public health measures answered

TORONTO — The Ontario government has introduced new public health measures in an effort to blunt the growth of COVID-19 and ease the strain on the province’s health-care system.

The measures place more restrictions on outdoor gatherings, grant police new powers, and cap limits on the size of weddings, funerals, and religious services.

Here are some answers to questions you may have about the new orders:

When do the measures come into effect?

Most of the measures announced Friday came into effect today. Limits on weddings, funerals and religious services come into effect on Monday, April 19.

How long will these measures last?

The new measures are part of the provincewide stay-at-home order that was introduced on April 8. That order was extended on Friday by two weeks and is now set to expire on May 20.

Can I still leave my house?

Yes. The province says residents can still leave their homes if travelling for an essential purpose, like buying groceries, picking up a prescription from a pharmacy or exercise.

Can the police randomly stop me to enforce the stay-at-home order?

No. Police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in an “organized public event or social gathering,” according to the Solicitor General.

Those found not to be in compliance with the order will be issued a ticket at a minimum of $750 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Originally, the government granted police services across the province the power to stop individuals on the street and in vehicles to ask why they had left their homes. Public health experts questioned the measure and civil liberties advocates said that such enforcement could lead to racial profiling.

More than a dozen forces in Ontario would later reject the measure, forcing the government to walk back the order and refine its scope. 

Can I go to a golf course?

No. Under the new measures all outdoor recreational amenities, including golf courses, basketball courts, and soccer fields are closed.

The province originally ordered the closure of all playgrounds, but reversed the decision Saturday afternoon following backlash to the order.

Public health experts, including members of the province’s own vaccine task force, have maintained that outdoor activities are far safer than those held indoors.

Can I go to a park to hang out with my friends?

No. Outdoor gatherings and organized public events are now limited to only those people that you live with. Residents who live alone and caregivers are free to socialize with one other household.

Can I continue construction on my residential property?

Yes. According to the government, residential construction that has already started can continue as well as critical infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges.

However, non-essential construction sites like shopping malls, hotels and office towers will be closed.

Have the capacity limits at grocery stores changed?

Yes. Capacity at supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, and pharmacies will be capped at 25 per cent. Previously, these businesses could operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Can I travel to Manitoba, Quebec?

Yes. However, starting Monday, Ontario will set up checkpoints at interprovincial borders to restrict land travel between Quebec and Manitoba to essential travel only. The office of the Solicitor General says if you are currently outside of Ontario but your principal residence is in the province, you are allowed to return.

How are weddings, funerals and religious services affected?

Capacity limits at weddings, funerals and places of worship will be capped at 10 people indoors or outdoors. Drive-in services are still permitted.

All other measures included under the original stay-at-home order are still in effect. Answers to those questions can be found here

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