UPDATE, Jan. 14, 7 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford himself has assured Newmarket Mayor John Taylor that outdoor skating and tobogganing are permitted activities under the stay-at-home order, and the town's rinks and hills are open. For details regarding additional restrictions and public health measures for outdoor activities, click here.
UPDATE, Jan. 13, 5:45 p.m.: The Town of Newmarket is temporarily closing all outdoor skating and community rinks, as well as suspending tobogganing, for the next 48 hours to seek clarification from the province if the activities are permitted to continue during the state of emergency that begins Jan. 14.
Tuesday's announcement of a provincewide state of emergency in which residents will be required to stay home as much as possible is yet another blow for a weary Newmarket business community already hit hard by the lockdown, while most residents have been left wondering how the state of emergency will further restrict their daily lives.
The several small business owners that NewmarketToday spoke to following the announcement said they had no idea what to make of the state emergency and couldn't begin to guess what it would mean for their already struggling businesses.
Those who have continued operating under the lockdown said they would soldier on as best they could, while those who have already closed said they will ride out the next several weeks, hoping they will soon get the OK to reopen.
With the Ford government saying that Ontario is on the brink of a health-care system crisis, Newmarket Mayor John Taylor called on Newmarket residents to follow the province's emergency rules — which begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 — despite the pain and inconvenience they will cause.
"We need to take this very seriously. Regardless of whether you have disagreed with some or all of the past measures, I strongly believe this is the time for the community to be united in its response and get behind the direction the province is providing," Taylor said.
"We can't afford half-measures, a divided community, or for different levels of government to be freelancing their own positions on this. We can have those conversations, but once the province has taken a position and put it forward, we need to get serious about it, follow directions, and get those numbers down."
The full details of the order have yet to be posted by the government, so further clarity about the impact will be coming.
"The province has yet to post their regulations online, which will solidify the approach York Region and others will take," York Region spokesperson Patrick Casey said.
For now, here are the answers to some of your questions:
What does a stay-at-home order mean?
Starting at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 14, everyone will be expected to remain at home all of the time. The exceptions are:
- going to the grocery store or pharmacy
- accessing health-care services
- getting some exercise outdoors
- going to work if your job, only if it cannot be done remotely.
The idea is to reduce your mobility as much as possible to make it harder for the virus to spread. Simply put, unless you have to leave the house, don't.
Will I get in trouble if I leave home and I'm not doing one of the exempted activities?
Yes. The announcement from the province is pretty clear on this point.
Under the state of emergency, police, provincial offences officers and workplace inspectors will be able to issue tickets to people and businesses who are found not complying with the stay-at-home order. They can also issue tickets for not wearing masks in indoor places open to the public and to businesses not enforcing those rules.
On top of that, provincial offences officers have the authority to temporarily shut down businesses.
Residents are required to identify themselves when a police officer has "reasonable and probable grounds" that there has been a breach of the orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Is there a curfew?
No. But all non-essential businesses must close by no later than 8 p.m., except for grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores or restaurants providing takeout and delivery.
Can I still go out hiking or tobogganing?
This was not explicitly spelled out in the announcement, but, yes, it appears so.
Nothing in the Tuesday announcement places any new restrictions on the use of outdoor facilities that were already authorized under the lockdown rules, which include toboggan hills, playgrounds, hiking trails, outdoor rinks, and more.
Outdoor gatherings of only five people are permitted.
While heading to the hill or trail may not be forbidden, use some common sense. Wearing a mask outdoors is now recommended when you can't physically distance, keep six feet/two metres apart from others, and if a hill or trail is crowded, leave and come back at another time.
Can I still get beer and alcohol?
Yes, the LCBO and Beer store will remain open, but as non-essential retailers, they are permitted to open only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
You may have to deal with lines, however, as the LCBO has said they will be reducing capacity in their stores to just 25 per cent.
And, of course, some grocery stores — which are essential businesses — will continue to sell beer, wine and cider.
Can I go to my cottage?
No, that's not staying home. Trips to your cottage or a secondary residence should be avoided, unless it is for an essential purpose such as emergency maintenance.
Is my housekeeper still allowed in my home?
Yes, but only in certain circumstances. Domestic services, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services, are permitted only to support children, seniors and vulnerable persons.
Can I get my car serviced or buy a new vehicle?
Yes, but by appointment only.