Ontario issues new stay-at-home order, but job sites allowed to remain open
By David KennedyHealth & Safety
Six days after the Ontario government implemented what it dubbed an “emergency brake shutdown” to slow the spread of COVID-19, the province is again tightening restrictions by issuing a stay-at-home order.
Premier Doug Ford, alongside Minister of Health Christine Elliott, declared a province-wide state of emergency April 7, but as with recent iterations of Ontario’s pandemic response, construction sites will be allowed to remain open.
The state of emergency, Ontario’s third since the onset of the pandemic more than a year ago, includes a four-week stay-at-home order that will come into force 12:01 a.m. Thursday. It requires people to leave their home only for essential purposes, which includes going to essential jobs that cannot be done remotely. Non-essential retail stores will return to curbside pick-up only, and big box stores will be allowed to sell only essential items. Businesses must ensure all staff who can work from home do so.
“These next four weeks are absolutely critical,” Ford said in a press conference April 7. “We have come so far already and we just need to stick together a little longer because hope is on the horizon.”
Ford implored residents to stay home, saying the stay-at-home order is part of the province’s two-part strategy for tackling the third wave of COVID-19.
Stepping up vaccinations by opening up bookings to more Ontarians and rolling out mobile vaccine clinics is the other. The province said vaccine teams will be deployed to high-risk congregate settings, including large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods. With increasing vaccine supplies, Ford said by the end of the four-week stay-at-home order, Ontario hopes to have 40 per cent of adults vaccinated against COVID-19.
For construction, the latest order changes little. Staff that can work remotely must do so, but job sites are allowed to remain open.
For smaller scale work, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association said projects such as renovations are considered essential and are allowed to continue under the industry’s strict health and safety guidelines. For occupied space projects, however, the association advises contractors to work with their clients to devise a scenario all involved are comfortable with.
The province noted health and safety officers will increase inspections at essential businesses in regional hot zones during the latest stay-at-home order.