Ontario has officially issued a second State of Emergency after sharp increases in COVID-19 cases across the province, which includes stay-at-home orders, effective Thursday.

As of January 14 at 12:01 a.m., the stay-at-home orders require all residents to stay home unless for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, accessing health care, exercise or for essential work. It will remain in effect for at least 28 days. 

This means that:

- All employers must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does

- Outdoor public gatherings and social gatherings are restricted to 5 people

- Individuals must wear a face mask in businesses and organizations that are open, and it is now recommended that you wear a mask when you can’t physically distance outdoors

- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. These hours do not apply to stores that sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants for takeout or delivery

- Non-essential construction is further restricted.

By January 20, the Chief Medical officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, but schools in Northern Ontario will continue to remain open.

The province has provided authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the OPP, local police forces and bylaw officers to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with these orders, or those not wearing a face covering indoors, as well as companies who do not enforce these restrictions.

Those who do not abide by the orders will be subject to fines or prosecution. Officers will also be able to temporarily close a premises and disperse people who are gathering.

As of the time of writing, there are currently 44 active cases of COVID-19 in the region. That includes 27 active cases in the Rainy River District, 15 in the Kenora region and 2 in the Dryden / Red Lake region.