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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
February 25, 2021

On January 12, 2021, Ontario declared another state of emergency. Since January 14, 2021, a "stay at home" order has been in effect. This means people must stay in their homes.

Check this map to see if the stay-at-home order is still in effect in your area.

Stay-at-home order in effect

If the stay at home order is still in effect where you live, you can only leave your home for certain reasons such as:

  • going to work, school, or childcare
  • buying food, medicine, or household supplies
  • seeking medical care or caring for someone else
  • going to court or to see a lawyer
  • exercising or taking your dog for a walk
  • travelling to another residence or event if you're allowed to
  • moving to another home

You must also:

  • wear a mask when inside buildings other than your home
  • stay at least 2 metres away from others when outdoors
  • avoid gathering outside in groups of more than 5 people

You're not allowed to gather indoors with people from outside your household. The only exception is for people who live alone, including single parents. These people are allowed to pick one other household that they can visit with inside.


Where the stay-at-home order is in effect some workplaces must close. This includes hair salons, museums, and theatres. Malls are also closed but may offer curb-side pickup.

You can find a full list of the places allowed to open here. Even if your workplace is allowed to stay open, anyone who can work from home must do so

Stay-at-home order ends

If the stay-at-home order is over where you live, you must follow the rules in the colour-coded COVID-19 stage you're in. This will be different in each area of Ontario. Check this map to see which COVID-19 stage you're in and to learn about the rules that must be followed.


Where the stay-at-home order ends, most businesses can open, including restaurants, bars, movie theatres, and gyms. But this can change, depending on the colour-coded COVID-19 stage that applies in your area.

School and childcare

Schools have now re-opened across the province. There are some new safety rules in schools, including:

  • grades 1 to 12 must wear masks in school, on school buses, and outdoors if social distance isn't possible
  • new COVID-19 screening protocols
  • expanded COVID-19 testing

School board may have different rules in different places, so you should contact your local school board if you have questions.

Fines for breaking the rules

Any provincial offences officer can stop you and ask you to identify yourself if they have "reasonable and probable" grounds or reasons to believe you're not following the emergency rules. They can also stop group gatherings and ask guests to leave.

Provincial offence officers include:

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

If you're caught breaking the rules, you can be charged with one or more provincial offences. You might get 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
  • a fine of $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.

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

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

If you have questions about this emergency order, contact your local public health unit.

We will update this page as more information is released.

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