Ottawa

Here's what you can and can't do under Ontario's stay-at-home order

OK, so what exactly can you do during the provincial stay-at-home order? Lounge at a local park? Go for a walk with a friend? Here are some answers.

City still reviewing new rules that went into effect Thursday

A runner makes her way alongside Major's Hill Park in downtown Ottawa on April 5, 2021. Outdoor exercise is still allowed under the provincial stay-at-home order. (Jean-Francois Benoit/CBC)

It's not our first stay-at-home order, but the fine print on Ontario's latest pandemic restrictions have some scratching their heads nevertheless.

The new measures that went into effect Thursday order residents to stay put unless it's for necessities like going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health-care services, exercising outdoors, or going to school or work if those activities can't be done remotely.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson urged residents Wednesday to comply with the new rules, warning city bylaw officers will enforce them. The city's bylaw services director Roger Chapman told CBC in an email Thursday that his department is still "reviewing the province's amended regulations," and will update the public on the details as soon as possible.

The order is expected to last 28 days. Some of the rules are clear. Others, not so much.

So what can and can't you do now? Here are some answers.

Can I go for a walk with a friend?

You're allowed to go for a walk, jog or other outdoor exercise activity — but you can only do it with someone who's a member of your household, says the province.

If you live alone, the province says you can gather with one other household, so you should be OK to go for a walk with only those in that household.

Can I take my kids to the park or playground?  

Last March, the city closed all its municipal parks and playgrounds, including off-leash dog parks.

So far, the city hasn't announced any similar closures. As long as those parks and playgrounds near your home remain open, you can take your kids there. 

The city "strongly recommends" people wear masks at parks and playgrounds, however.

How about taking my dog to the dog park? 

You can walk your dog in your neighbourhood. If you live near an off-leash park that has remained open, you can let your pet run around there.

Can I use basketball and tennis courts or skate parks? 

Yes, the city says people can shoot hoops and play some one-on-one on basketball courts, but stick with members of your household. That means no big games or scrimmages.

You can play tennis, again with members of your own household. You can also go skateboarding at a skate park.

Whatever the activity, the city asks that you to wear a mask as much as possible, and maintain a safe distance both on and off the court.

Can I have 5 or fewer friends over to my backyard?

According to the province's regulations, the outdoor gathering limit of five people applies to organized public events or social gatherings that are allowed by law — wedding receptions, for example.

"For greater certainty, nothing in this order permits an individual to gather with other individuals if the gathering is not permitted by law," reads the official document.

So if a friend invites you over to hang out in their backyard, stay home, says the province. If you live alone, you can gather with one other household, indoors or outdoors.

People lounge in Ottawa's Confederation Park on Nov. 5, 2020. Outdoor gatherings are capped at five people under the stay-at-home order. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The regulations state you can still use outdoor areas such as backyards or balconies, or common areas like building courtyards or lobbies if they're open. So as long as there are only five members of your own household at the barbecue, you should be fine.

Remember, stay two metres apart and wear masks around people outside your household.

Can I go to my cottage? 

Travel between regions or outside the province is discouraged unless it's "absolutely necessary." 

But under certain conditions, you may be able to travel to a secondary residence like a cottage.

The province's rules say if you plan on going, it either has to be for less than 24 hours and for a necessary purpose such as emergency repairs or preparing your property for sale — or you must stay there for 14 days or longer.

What products can I buy at the store?

The province is limiting big box stores and other retailers to groceries, pet care supplies, cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health-care items and personal care items.

You can buy non-essential products for curbside pickup by appointment or delivery. 

Liquor stores, garden centres, safety supply stores, auto dealerships and a select few other businesses can open for in-person shopping by appointment.

Should I cancel my massage, chiropractor or physio appointment?

No. Registered massage therapists and services provided by other regulated health professionals in the province are considered health-care services, so those are still allowed to continue under the stay-at-home order.

Personal care services like nail and hair salons are closed, however.

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