Ontario, Canada Imposes Additional COVID-19 Restrictions

On April 16, 2021, Ontario announced a two-week extension of its third declaration of emergency and its second Stay-at-Home order, and that in response to the rapid increase of COVID-19 case rates and pressure on the health care system, it would impose additional restrictions.  The restrictions include but are not limited to:

Workplace Inspections

Workplace inspectors, supported by provincial offenses officers, will visit 1,300 construction sites to enforce COVID-19 safety requirements.  In addition, provincial offences officers will visit over 500 workplaces in COVID-19 hotspots in Ottawa, Toronto and York Region, including big-box stores, food processors, manufacturers, and warehouses.

Travel Restrictions

Travel by land into Ontario from Manitoba and Quebec will be restricted except, among other limited reasons:

  • To work;
  • To obtain health care or social services;
  • To transport goods into or through the province as part of the operation of a business; or
  • To exercise Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures

All outdoor social gatherings and organized public events will be prohibited, except if gathering with:

  • members of the same household;
  • one other person from outside that household who lives alone, or
  • a caregiver for any member of the household.

All non-essential workplaces in the construction sector will be closed.

Capacity limits will be reduced to 25% in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted, including in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers markets, other stores that primarily sell food, and pharmacies.

All outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, and soccer fields will be closed, with limited exceptions.

Indoor and Outdoor Events and Gatherings

The number of people who may attend gatherings for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies is limited to 10 people indoors and outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these events are prohibited, except with members of the same household or one other person from outside the household who lives alone.  Drive-in services will be permitted. 


Non-essential construction will not be permitted to remain open.  Construction activities permitted to remain open are listed at s. 43 of Ontario Regulation 297/21 made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020

Actions Ontario Will Not Implement

On April 17, 2021, Ontario announced that it would not proceed with the following measures, as it had originally announced it would:

  • The authorization of police officers to enforce compliance with its stay-at-home order by requiring individuals to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence;
  • The authorization of police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual's reasons for leaving their home; and
  • The closure of playgrounds.

Bottom Line for Employers

Employers are encouraged to become familiar with the new measures put in place that apply to them, ensure their compliance, and consult with experienced employment counsel to ask any related questions they may have. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.