One day after declaring a state of emergency and issuing a stay-at-home order, Ontario’s premier had a relatively simple message for residents once restrictions officially take shape at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.
“Stay home. I really could not be clearer,” Doug Ford said on Wednesday.
“Essential means different things to different people. We need everyone to use their best judgment. If you’re not sure if a trip is absolutely essential, it probably isn’t.”
Ford announced the stay-at-home order saying that everyone will be required to remain in their own households “as often as possible”, with the exception of essential purposes.
These include grocery stores, pharmacies, health-care services, exercising, or essential work.
The government wouldn’t clarify what qualifies as an essential item, only saying that defining what is essential risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being, and safety.
Mayor John Tory says the fundamental message to residents is stay home as much as you possibly can.
“To me it is more that people have lost a certain sense of fear they had of the unknown and of the virus in the spring,” said Tory. “This is part of the problem we have.”
He believes ‘COVID fatigue’ is leading to more residents rationalizing excuses of leaving the house or gathering with people.
“It’s about staying home as much as possible. If you do have to go outside, wear your mask to the greatest extent possible,” Toronto’s top doctor, Eileen de Villa, said during the City’s COVID-19 briefing.
“These are things each and every one of us can reflect in our daily lives. Stay home if you’re sick.”
The order now mandates that anyone who can work from home must now do so. The stay-at-home rite will remain in effect for at least 28 days, until February 11.
Anyone caught violating the stay-at-home orders could face a fine and persecution under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). Among the stiffer penalties, Ontarians found breaking the rules could spend up to a year in jail.
The government has also restricted hours of operation for non-essential retailers currently offering delivery and curbside pickup to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and imposed a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings.
“There is no confusion here. It’s very simple. Stay home. Stay home. That’s it,” Ford reiterated.
“If you’re questioning: should I go out? You’ve got the answer. Stay home. Stay a la Maison.”