Ontario’s New Emergency Order

COVID-19 | ,

ontario rsquo s new emergency order
This entry is part 47 of 45 in the series COVID-19.

Ontario has declared another state of emergency and issued a “stay-at-home” order (“SAH order”). The latest restrictions come into effect between January 12 and January 14, 2021.

The measures now in force are a combination of:

You can find a list of the regulations in force and the revoked/spent regulations here.

You can also look at this overview document for a plain language summary of the changes.

Businesses & Organizations

The key change for businesses and organizations is that all staff are to 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, with limited exception, for instance, where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.

The list of businesses permitted to open remains largely the same but with new restrictions: limited opening hours, limited capacity, requiring some curbside orders to be placed before arrival at some retail services, and some new capacity limits.

Can we access our business or workspace? The temporary access provisions under the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 do not seem to be changed in the latest amendments. Those allowed for temporarily be at the business or place for things like attending to critical matters relating to closure that can’t be done remotely, or accessing materials, goods or supplies necessary for remote operation, security services, or inspections and maintenance to be done. The SAH order allows people to attend a workplace where “the nature of the work” requires it, including when the “employer has determined that the nature of the individual’s work requires attendance at the workplace.”

Religious Services

Religious services of 10 people indoors or outdoors are permitted. They continue to be subject to requirements on physical distancing and face coverings.

The SAH order (s.24) specifically allows for making “necessary arrangements” for religious services, rites or ceremonies that are allowed under the Rules for Areas in Stage 1.

The SAH order (s.24) also specifically allows for attending those services, rites or ceremonies.

So what do the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 say?

  • You can attend a gathering of no more than 10 people for the purpose of a religious service, rite or ceremony (this is repeated in the SAH order) (Sch 4, s 1(1)(d))
  • When attending you must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing (Sch 4, s 1(2))
  • These apply even if the religious service, rite or ceremony is held at a private dwelling (Sch 4, s 1(3))
  • You cannot attend a social gathering associated with a gathering for religious services, rites or ceremonies unless it is outdoors and of no more than 5 people (Sch 4, s 1(b), (c))

The current Rules for Areas in Stage 1 therefore contemplates religious services, rites and ceremonies that are held in a private dwelling. Neither s 24 of the SAH order or the latest regulation appear to change this.

Section 24 of the SAH order effectively repeats the permission given in Rules for Areas in Stage 1 for religious gatherings.

What about drive-in services? Drive-in services are still allowed.

What about livestreaming? Livestreaming would seem to fall into two categories: (1) religious services of up to 10 are allowed as is “making necessary arrangements” for religious services, (2) temporary access to a business or place to access materials, goods or supplies necessary to operate remotely, which is also allowed.

Meeting Space for Addiction Support Services

Meeting or event spaces are allowed to remain open for mental health and addictions support services up to a maximum of 10 people, child-care centre operation and a list of various government services.


Schools in zones that were grey as of December 18, 2020 remain closed until February 10, 2021. Schools in other zones may or may not open, depending on what the Chief Medical Officer of Health advises. The decision and announcement will be made by January 20, 2021.

Social Gatherings

There are no indoor social gatherings.

Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 5 people and subject to requirements on physical distancing and face coverings.

Series Navigation<< Saskatchewan Removes All Public Health Orders, Ontario Revises

The content provided in this blog is for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.

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