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Stop the spread

We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19

stay-at-home order is in effect for all of Ontario as of April 8, 2021. As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday April 17th, that stay-at-home order is extended by two weeks and includes increased public health measures and restrictions. 

This means you must stay at home. You should only go out for necessities, such as:

  • going to the grocery store or pharmacy 
  • accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated) 
  • outdoor exercise or walking pets in your community 
  • going to work that cannot be done remotely 
  • attending school or a post-secondary institution

Businesses must ensure that all employees work from home if they can.

Do not travel outside your region or the province unless absolutely necessary.

General advice:

  • Maintain 2 metres (6 feet) of physical distancing from everyone outside of your household.
  • Wear a face covering indoors and outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Face coverings should be tightly fitted to cover the nose, mouth and chin.  
  • Stay home from work if you have symptoms, even if they are mild. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. 
  • Cover your cough. 
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure by the health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app.
  • If you are required to wear personal protective equipment for prevention of COVID-19, please ensure at a minimum it includes a medical mask and eye protection.

The stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes (e.g. going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely). A full list of permitted reasons to go out can be found in O.Reg 265/21 regulation.

During the stay-at-home order and provincewide shutdown, indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. You are not allowed to gather indoors or outdoors with anyone you do not live with, except one other person from outside of the household that lives alone. Masks or face coverings should be worn if physical distancing cannot be maintained outdoors with individuals from outside your household.

At this time, SMDHU recommends cancelling or postponing all non-essential events and gatherings.

The stay-at-home order (effective April 8 2021) requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes.

Cottage or second residences

  • AVOID all trips to a cottage or secondary residence unless it is for an essential purpose like emergency maintenance.

    Out of Region
  • Stay home. Do NOT travel outside your region or the province unless absolutely necessary.

    Out of province
  • As of April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., travel from Manitoba or Quebec into Ontario will be restricted. Exemptions will only be allowed for specified reasons, including: 

o going to work 
o receiving medical care or social services 
o business transport of goods 
o exercising Indigenous or treaty rights 
o your primary residence is in Ontario 
o you are moving to a new primary residence in Ontario 
o humanitarian or compassionate reasons, such as providing care or services to a person who  requires assistance due to their state of health.

Read the full list of reasons you may travel into Ontario from Manitoba or Quebec.

Out of Country
Only travel outside of the country if it is essential. To slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. Under this order, if you have recently returned to Canada you must self-isolate (quarantine) and stay home whether you have symptoms or not. Even if you do not have symptoms right away, you are at risk of developing them and infecting others.

If you need it, you will get immediate medical attention when you arrive in Canada. Learn about travel advisories related to COVID-19.

If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.

Although, getting exercise and taking part in physical activity is important for our health during the stay-at-home order we encourage you use the space and resources you have in your own home or close to your home (i.e. participating in a virtual exercise class, hosting a zoom workout with friends, using your backyard to play outdoor sports, walking around your block).

At this time public spaces such as parks and trails are still open and if you choose to use them be aware that there is a risk of people congregating close together and spreading COVID-19.

The following are recommendations to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when visiting outdoor public spaces (e.g. municipal or public parks, hiking paths and trails, dog parks, playgrounds):

  • Use the outdoor public spaces within your own community. 
  • If you are feeling ill or displaying symptoms (i.e. fever, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat, runny nose) or if you have come into contact with someone who has shown symptoms or has tested positive, you are not to visit the outdoor public space. 
  • Read all posted signs including screening signs at all entrances and ensure everyone self-screens before entering the space. 
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others at all times and especially while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads and scenic overlooks. 
  • If physical distancing is difficult to maintain in the outdoor space, wear a face covering.
  • Avoid close contact with people outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, high-fives, or games involving shared items. 
  • Wash or sanitize your hands as you arrive. 
  • Do not share equipment with people outside of your household. 

It is important to know that there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being linked to the spread of COVID-19. You’re more likely to be infected by your fellow shoppers than anything you purchase. There are things you can do to reduce your risks when shopping.

Decide on who goes shopping:

Choose a person in your household who is in good health to be the main grocery or other essential item shopper. Shop only if you feel well and can be reasonably sure that you have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is showing symptoms. Shop alone, only one person per household and no children if possible.

Do not go out and shop if you are:

  • Sick or living with someone who is sick
  • Just home from travelling outside of Canada
  • Over 70 years of age
  • Have a weakened immune system or chronic health condition

Plan your shopping list carefully so that you can buy enough food and other supplies to last at least a week or two. Buy more and aim for only one trip a week.

When you are shopping:

  • You must wear a face covering when shopping indoors, and if shopping outdoors (i.e. farmers’ market) and physical distancing is not possible.
  • Be respectful of store employees. They are doing their best in a difficult situation.
  • Clean the handle of your cart.
  • Bring your own wipes and hand sanitizer; although the stores have been trying hard to keep a public stock, the supplies are short.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands as you enter and after to get into your car.
  • Keep your distance from others while in the store. Staying 2 metres or roughly 2 arms-length (6 feet) apart is an easy way to measure your distance.
  • Handle only the items you intend to buy.
  • Use a credit or debit card to avoid handling money or receiving change.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Know that gloves are not necessary and offer no added protection. Frequent handwashing is key.

Back at home:

When you enter into a public indoor space or workplace, even those not open to the public, common areas of apartment buildings, condominium buildings, and student residences or if you use a public transit (e.g. bus, taxis or ride share) you are required to wear a mask or face covering. See section 2. of Ontario Regulation 364/20.

FAQ - Wearing masks or face coverings within enclosed public spaces - (revised April 17, 2021)

  • Follow the drop-off or pick-up instructions given by the restaurant or grocery store.
  • Ask for the food to be left on the doorstep.
  • Minimize contact with employees. Stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart from the delivery person.
  • If picking up food or groceries, consider opening the car door or trunk latch yourself so the person loading does not touch your car handles.
  • Use touch-free or cashless payments.
  • Prepay via the internet or telephone for your delivery order.
  • Remove your food from the external packaging and dispose of it in the garbage or recycling right away.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands well for 15 seconds after touching packaging and before eating.

Shopping for second-hand products is a good way to save money, recycle and reuse during COVID-19. If you participate in handling or purchasing second-hand products here are some actions you can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

COVID -19 virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on different conditions, such as temperature, type of surface and humidity of the environment. Proper hand hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection.

  • Wash your hands after handling items.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% - 90% alcohol content if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

After purchasing an item, thoroughly clean and disinfect it. Avoid buying items that are difficult to clean.

Buying second-hand items during COVID-19: 

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home, seek testing and self-isolate.
  • Avoid meeting in person if possible (e.g. leaving items out for “porch pick-up”). 
  • Use digital/electronic or contactless payment services rather than cash. 
  • Practice physical distancing with people outside of your household (i.e. stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart).
  • Practice proper cough etiquette and hand hygiene
  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is not possible or when shopping in an indoor public place such as a retail store. Make sure it fits. Learn how to wear it properly and follow the do’s and don’ts.

Limits for religious, wedding and funeral services:

  • Indoors or outdoors: 10 people
  • Receptions are not permitted indoors or outdoors, except with members of the same household (the people you live with) or with one other person from outside of the household that lives alone.
  • Drive-in services permitted

Virtual services are best, but if attending a service follow these recommendations:

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • If you are high risk consider attending virtually or the outdoor portion only
  • A mask or face covering is required when indoors and is recommended outdoors when it is difficult to maintain physical distance
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid close contact (hugging, kissing, hand shaking) with persons outside of your household


Page last updated: April 18, 2021

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