A new stay-at-home order will be in effect as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning for the next four weeks, as Ontario battles the third wave of COVID-19.

Of note, big box stores will only be able to sell essential items. New retail restrictions include:

  • Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
  • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
  • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
  • Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
    • Safety supply stores;
    • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
    • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
    • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
  • Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent cap acity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“The risks are greater and the stakes are higher,” said Premier Doug Ford during his virtual daily briefing earlier today. “Things are extremely, extremely serious right now, and I am extremely concerned. The situation is evolving rapidly; hour-by-hour.”

“The reality is, despite everything we’ve done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants continue to spread. Our hospitals are reaching capacity,” said Ford, as he explained the reasoning behind the additional shutdown.

Ford says front-line special education workers province-wide and education workers in the highest-risk communities will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning next week. The will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows.

Mobile vaccination teams are also expected to be deployed to shelters, residential buildings, community centres and faith-based locations in the highest-risk communities, which will be available for everyone over the age of 18.

“Above all else, our plan is to get needles into arms and protect our hospitals. Vaccines remain our best hope to beat this virus,” added Ford, who noted over 2.7 million vaccinations have already been administered in Ontario. “Get a vaccine as soon as you’re eligible. Please folks. This is how you can help us.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ford hinted further restrictions could be coming, but specifically mentioned the Toronto, Peel, and York regions. This lead to speculation that a further lock-down could be coming for those COVID-19 hot-spots, which has since grown to a province-wide lock-down.

Ford notes these new stay-at-home orders are in addition to the ongoing ‘emergency brake’ orders issued last week to slow the spread of the virus.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with a positive case is asked to self-isolate, get tested and remain in isolation until your test results are known.