Ontario Declares State of Emergency and Issues Stay-At-Home Order, New Restrictions

January 12, 2021 Updated: January 13, 2021

Premier Doug Ford announced on Jan. 12 that Ontario will enter into a state of emergency for 28 days effective immediately to curb the surge of COVID-19 across the province.

Ford also issued a stay-at-home order which will come into effect on Jan. 14 at 12.01 a.m. Under this order, all Ontarians are to remain at home except for essential purposes such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health-care services, for exercise, or for essential work. 

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” Ford said.

“That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

The government says its COVID-19 modelling data show the death toll could double from 50 to 100 between now and the end of February. The government’s projections also suggest that the number of patients in intensive care could increase to 500 by mid-January and potentially reach over 1,000 by February under more severe scenarios.

The government also introduced the following new restrictions:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions.
  •  Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when it’s not possible to physically distance more than two metres, while individuals are still required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

A curfew will not be imposed at this time as there is no evidence of its effectiveness to curb the virus spread, the government said.

As of Jan. 12, the province reported 2,903 new cases—including eight new cases of a variant from the United Kingdom—138 more hospitalizations, 41 new associated deaths, and two less patients in ICU.