stay at home order ontario

Ontario's stay-at-home order is about to expire and here's what that means for Toronto

The sweeping stay-at-home order implemented by Ontario's provincial government nearly two months ago is set to expire this Wednesday — and Premier Doug Ford has given no indication that he will extend it again (as he has done multiple times over the past eight, dark, locked-down weeks.)

So what does that mean for we, the people?

Not a whole darned lot, unfortunately, as we'll still be in "emergency break shutdown" mode until the government says otherwise (it's looking like two weeks.)

Health Minister Christine Elliott stated on May 20 when announcing the province's 3 Step "Roadmap to Reopening" plan that we'd likely exit shutdown and enter the new framework during the week of June 14.

Late last week, Ford himself reaffirmed his commitment to a June 14 reopening date, despite Ontario's fast-rising vaccination rates and falling case counts.

Unless anything changes, this means that all of Ontario will spend two weeks in lurch, not under a stay-at-home order but not in reopening mode yet, beginning on June 2.

The one major rule change is that Ontario residents will be able to leave their homes (legally) for any reason. Currently, under the stay-at-home order, we may only leave for essential purposes that include such things as grocery shopping, accessing health care and exercise.

Also key to note is that the government just issued an extension of some specific orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, including the prohibition of recreational camping and a ban on interprovincial border crossings, until at least June 16.

If Ontario goes right back to the same rules that were in place after the emergency break shutdown went into effect but before the stay-at-home order was issued, the rules will look a lot like they did when they were announced amid the third wave (with some exceptions involving extra rules tacked on in mid-April.)

Here are some of the more pertinent rules for shutdown zones under the Reopening Ontario Act (independent of the stay-at-home order) as of the act's last modification on May 22.

Work from home except where necessary

Each person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely, with limited exception, for instance, where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.


Businesses must implement passive screening for patrons by posting signs at all entrances informing people to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entry. Workplaces must screen all workers or visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information.

Capacity limits

In person shopping permitted for some types of retail, subject to ability to maintain two metres of physical distancing and capacity limits of:

  • 25 per cent for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies
  • Big box stores are not permitted to sell items considered non-essential 
Physical distancing

Everyone in Ontario must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from others (except for caregivers or other members of their household) in a place of business or facility that is open to the public.

Face coverings

Everyone must wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin in indoor public spaces (with limited exceptions).

Events and gatherings
  • Indoor organized public events and social gatherings are not allowed, except with members of the same household (the people you live with).
  • Individuals who live alone and single parents may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
  • Outdoor organized public events and social gatherings must comply with public health advice on physical distancing and have no more than 5 people.
Weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies
  • physical distancing must be maintained
  • guests must wear masks or face coverings
  • capacity limits of 15 per cent indoors, and 10 people outdoors
  • Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies permitted, subject to certain conditions. Virtual services permitted.
Meeting and event spaces 

Only permitted to open for:

  • child care centres and authorized recreational and skill building programs (as described in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014)
  • court services
  • government services
  • mental health and addictions support services (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous), permitted to a maximum of 10 people
  • social services
  • collective bargaining, so long as more than 10 people are permitted to occupy the rented space
Restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments

Take out, drive through, and delivery permitted only (includes the sale of alcohol). In-person dining closed. Patios closed.

Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to open if they operate as a food or drink establishment.

Supermarkets, convenience stores, indoor farmer’s markets and other stores that primarily sell food
  • Open for in-person retail (25 per cent capacity where two metres physical distancing can be maintained)
  • curbside pick-up
  • delivery
  • Open for in-person retail (25 per cent capacity, where two metres physical distancing can be maintained)
  • curbside pick-up
  • delivery
Liquor, cannabis, hardware and pet stores
  • Limited to 25 per cent capacity, where two metres physical distancing can be maintained
  • curbside pick-up
  • delivery

Permitted services include:

  • rental and leasing services, including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental
  • gas stations and other fuel suppliers
  • automated and self-service car washes
  • laundromats and drycleaners
  • snow clearing and landscaping services
  • security services for residences, businesses and other properties
  • domestic services to support children, seniors or vulnerable persons, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services
  • vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services
  • courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services
  • funeral and related services
  • staffing services including providing temporary help
  • veterinary services and other businesses that provide pet services and for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, research facilities, pet groomers, pet sitters, pet walkers, pet trainers (including for service animals)
Short-term rentals

Short-term rentals (for example, cottages, cabins) are only to be provided to individuals who are in need of housing.

Post-secondary institutions

Post-secondary institutions open for virtual instruction, with limited exceptions where in-person instruction is required (e.g., clinical training, trades). Subject to physical distancing with limited exceptions.

In-person teaching (each instructional space at the institution at one time) and in-person examinations cannot exceed 10 persons, with limited exemptions for:

  • diagnostic cardiac sonography and diagnostic medical sonography
  • diagnostic ultrasound
  • medical imaging
  • medical laboratory assistant and medical laboratory technician
  • medical radiation technology
  • medicine
  • mental health and addictions services, including psychology services, social work services and counselling services
  • nursing
  • paramedic
  • personal support worker, supportive care worker, home care worker or a similar occupation
  • pharmacy/pharmacy technician
  • public health inspector, if the program is accredited by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors
  • rehabilitation sciences (nutrition, speech language pathology, occupational science and physiotherapy)
  • respiratory therapy

Additional requirements for in-person teaching that involves singing or the playing of brass or wind instruments.

Real estate (including pre-sale construction)

No open houses – showing a property permitted by appointment only.

Transportation services

Permitted services include:

  • transportation services provided by air, water, road and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers
  • support services for transportation services, including logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators
  • services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs
  • marinas, boating clubs and other organizations that maintain docking facilities (with conditions)
  • businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online
Community services

Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of community services are allowed, including:

  • sewage treatment and disposal
  • waste collection, transport, storage, processing, disposal or recycling
  • potable drinking water
  • critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges
  • environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean-up and response
  • administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses
  • professional and social services that support the legal and justice system
  • policing and law enforcement
  • fire and emergency services
  • paramedics
  • coroner and pathology services
  • corrections and court services
  • licences and permits
  • allotment gardens or community gardens
Outdoor recreational amenities

Outdoor recreational amenities that were permitted to reopen as of May 22, subject to some conditions, include:

  • parks and recreational areas
  • baseball diamonds
  • batting cages
  • soccer, football and sports fields
  • tennis, platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts
  • basketball courts
  • BMX parks
  • skate parks
  • frisbee golf locations
  • cycling tracks and bike trails
  • horse riding facilities
  • shooting ranges, including those operated by rod and gun clubs
  • ice rinks
  • tobogganing hills
  • snowmobile, cross country, dogsledding, ice-skating and snow-shoe trails
  • playgrounds
  • portions of parks or recreational areas containing outdoor fitness equipment
  • golf courses and driving ranges
  • ski hills

A permitted outdoor recreational amenity may only open if:

  • physical distance of at least two metres can be maintained
  • team sports, or other sports or games where people may come within two metres of each other, are not practiced or played
  • locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses remain closed (except for access to equipment storage, washrooms or first aid)
Health care and social services


  • organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities
  • regulated health professionals
  • professionals or organizations that provide in-person counselling services
  • organizations that provide health care, including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities, mental health and addictions counselling supports
  • laboratories and specimen collection centres
  • manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices, medical supplies
  • manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support for products and services that support the delivery of health care
  • organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities
  • organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals
  • businesses that are primarily engaged in the provision of health and safety training (with conditions)
Businesses not permitted to open
  • Amusement parks, water parks
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas (includes drive in or drive through events)
  • Day camps
  • Horse racing (open for training only, no races or spectators)
  • Motorsports
  • Museums and cultural amenities
  • Personal care services
  • Tour and guide services
  • Zoos and aquariums (permitted to operate for the care of animals)
Lead photo by

Randy McDonald

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