Ontario Government Provides More Details on Stay at Home Order

Ontario Government Provides More Details on Stay at Home Order

On Tuesday, as he had forewarned, Premier Ford announced new restrictions in Ontario designed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The restrictions came into force at midnight on January 14th, and the government released additional details late on January 13th.

The details are set out in a Regulation which you can find here. As promised in our January 13th blog post about the announcement, we are providing a summary here.

The Regulation begins with a bold restriction: Every individual shall remain in their place of residence at all times. Not surprisingly, there are exceptions to this broad rule.

Impact on the Workplace

With respect to work, the Regulation is quite clear in this regard:

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, unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.

Employers who insist on having employees attend the workplace should be prepared to demonstrate that it is necessary. In a FAQ, the government indicates that an employee who believes that they should be working from home but are being required to attend at the workplace can call the Ministry of Labour to file a complaint. An employer would then have to demonstrate why it is not possible for the work to be done remotely.

Furthermore, the Regulation provides that people in a business or organization that is open must wear a mask or face covering while indoors and also maintain proper physical distancing. Exceptions to the requirement to remain physically distant include where it is necessary to complete a transaction or receive a service or where it is physically impossible; in such cases, a mask or face covering is required.

List of exceptions to the requirement to stay at home

The government has provided a list of exceptions to the requirement that people stay at home, divided into categories. Below is a summary; the complete list is contained in the Regulation.

Work, school and child care

    1. Working or volunteering where the nature of the work or volunteering requires the individual to leave their residence, including when the individual’s employer has determined that the nature of the individual’s work requires attendance at the workplace
    2. Attending school, attending or providing child care

Obtaining goods and services

    1. Obtaining food, beverages and personal care items
    2. Obtaining goods or services that are necessary for health or safety
    3. Obtaining goods or services, or performing activities that are necessary for the safe operation, maintenance and sanitation of households, businesses, means of transportation or other places
    4. Purchasing or picking up goods through an alternative method of sale, such as curbside pickup
    5. Attending an appointment at a business or place that is permitted to be open
    6. Obtaining services from a financial institution
    7. Obtaining government services, social services and supports, mental health support services or addictions support services

Assisting others

    1. Delivering goods or providing care or other support or assistance to an individual who requires support or assistance, or receiving such support or assistance, including,
      1. providing care for an individual in a congregate care setting, and
      2. accompanying an individual who requires assistance leaving their residence for any permitted purpose

Health, safety and legal purposes

    1. Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including,
      1. protecting oneself or others from domestic violence,
      2. leaving or assisting someone in leaving unsafe living conditions, and
      3. seeking emergency assistance.
      1. Exercising, including,
        1. walking or moving around outdoors using an assistive mobility device, or
        2. using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open
      2. Attending a place as required by law or in relation to the administration of justice.

    Travel

      1. Travelling to an airport, bus station or train station for the purpose of travelling to a destination that is outside of the Province

    Gatherings

      1. Attending a gathering for the purpose of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony that is permitted or making necessary arrangements for the purpose of such a gathering
      2. If the individual lives alone, gathering with the members of a single household

    Animals

      1. Obtaining goods or services that are necessary for the health or safety of an animal, including obtaining veterinary services
      2. Walking or otherwise exercising an animal

    Conclusion

    As we have said repeatedly, the vast majority of issues, claims, and errors arise because people do not take the time to properly understand their rights and obligations. That is true in “normal times”, and it has been amplified during the pandemic.

    We continue to work with employers and employees as we all navigate these uncharted waters. Please contact us before you make any decision or take any action that could impact your workplace rights, so that we can provide you with the advice you need.

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