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What are the emergency rules in Ontario because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

What are the emergency rules in Ontario because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

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What are the emergency rules in Ontario because of the COVID-19 pandemic?updated
November 11, 2020

Because of the COVID-19 emergency, the government of Ontario introduced special emergency rules about things like the size of gatherings and what businesses and services can operate.

These rules have changed several times as the situation changes. Near the start of the pandemic, a state of emergency was declared on March 17, 2020. The rules were gradually relaxed as Ontario developed a Framework for Reopening. The state of emergency has now ended.

But as the number of infections have started to increase again, there are new restrictions being put into place by region. There are 5 levels of public health measures:

  • Green zone 
  • Yellow zone
  • Orange zone
  • Red zone 
  • Grey zone 

You can find what rules apply to your region here. And you can find out what these rules mean here.

Some municipalities have also passed their own bylaws to deal with the pandemic. For information about different municipal rules, check the website for your city. For example:

Make sure you understand the rules in Ontario and in your municipality. You can be fined if you don't follow the rules.


Any provincial offences officer can stop you and ask you to identify yourself if they have "reasonable and probable" grounds to believe you're not following the rules. Provincial offence officers include:

  • police officers
  • First Nations constables
  • special constables
  • municipal by-law enforcement officers

If you're caught breaking the rules, the police can charge you with one or more provincial offences. The police might give you a ticket or a summons that tells you to go to court.

The minimum punishment for each provincial offence is a fine of $750, or $1,000 if you tried to stop the officer from giving you or someone else a ticket. The maximum punishment for each offence is one year in jail, or a fine of up to $100,000.

Many municipalities have also passed their own by-laws with fines that may be different than the provincial amounts. 

If you continue to break the rules, you can be charged with a separate offence for each day that you didn't follow the rules.

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