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You asked, we (tried to) answer: What we know so far about Ontario’s new stay-at-home order

You asked, we (tried to) answer: What we know so far about Ontario’s new stay-at-home order
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The announcement Tuesday that Ontario is under a renewed state of emergency and all Ontarians are now bound to stay-at-home orders has raised significant questions about what rules we all need to follow.

The Star asked for reader questions about the lockdown. We’ve tried to answer them as best as possible — but at this point, some regulations remain up in the air. At a press conference Wednesday, Toronto’s fire chief Matthew Pegg said “the best information we have right now comes off a media release and a slide deck,” continuing they had not yet seen a draft of the regulations.

A detailed copy of all rules is expected from the province Wednesday evening, before the new rules begin at 12:01 a.m.

Leaving the home for essential purposes such as picking up food, groceries, essential goods, medications or visiting the doctor has always been allowed under provincial guidelines in the pandemic. That has not changed this time around.

Many submitted questions overlapped in theme, so we have generalized some common concerns below. We’ve also included a list of what we could not work out a responsible answer for, based on the protocols we are aware of Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET.

We will continue to update this file as we learn more.

Why can I shop curbside at non-essential businesses if we’re only allowed outside for essential reasons?

According to the ministry, the distinction between essential and non-essential retailers has not been made because many Ontarians — especially those in more remote communities — may have different needs than those residing in Toronto. Since not everyone has access to easy online shopping or a big-box retailer, curbside is available.

“What may be essential to someone in Timmins and how they buy that item may not be essential to someone in downtown Toronto, who can easily buy items online for delivery. The Government of Ontario determining what retailers may be considered essential risks cutting off many Ontarians who don’t live in Toronto or an urban centre from access to necessary goods,” a spokesperson for the ministry of health explained in an email to the Star.

Additionally, the spokesperson said they cannot determine what is an essential good for each person. “Legally defining what is essential risks cutting people off from goods that may legitimately be necessary for their health, well-being and safety,” the spokesperson wrote.

Can I travel to a second property within Ontario, or travel within the province?

Short answer: Don’t.

“Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes,” the ministry spokesperson said. “At this time we are not recommending intra-provincial travel.”

However, this comes with the exception of an essential trip to a second property, such as handling emergency repairs.

Can individuals who live alone be with one other household?

Yes. As with before, those who are living by themselves are allowed to interact with one other household. Emphasis on one household, and not one family for one weekend and another the next.

What does the five-person gathering limit mean?

The ministry has said five people can meet up outside so that those who live alone and require company for mental and physical health can get together with others. Physical distancing is expected, and mask use is strongly recommended by the province.
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