Executive summary

On January 12, 2021, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, declared a second provincial emergency under s. 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). This declaration was in response to a doubling of COVID‑19 cases and high transmission rates between December 29, 2020 and January 12, 2021, and the threat posed to the province's hospital system and long-term care homes.

This declared provincial emergency enabled Ontario to make and enforce new emergency orders that were necessary to protect the health and safety of individuals, families and communities from the threat of the second wave of the COVID‑19 pandemic. These orders were in addition to those remaining in effect under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID‑19) Act, 2020 (ROA).

This report focuses on the 28-day period that the second declared provincial emergency was in effect and outlines the 35 emergency orders the government issued and amended as needed to protect the people of Ontario during this time.


Once the second provincial emergency was declared, the Ontario government created, and amended as necessary, emergency orders under s. 7.0.2 of the EMCPA. This was done in consultation with, or on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) and other health experts, based on data, evidence and immediate need to respond to the ongoing threat of COVID‑19 transmission. (Emergency orders made under section 7.0.2 are automatically revoked 14 days after being made unless extended by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and can only be extended by Cabinet for periods of up to 14 days.)

On January 14, 2021, O. Reg. 11/21 (Stay-At-Home Order) came into effect provincewide. This emergency order required everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, or going to work in situations where the work could not be done remotely. Strengthened measures were necessary to help the people of Ontario to further reduce contact and exposure with people outside of their immediate household. The Orders were designed to respond to the rapid increase of COVID‑19 cases and address concerns associated with new COVID‑19 variants of concern (VOCs).

To align with the intent of the second declared emergency and Stay-At-Home Order, the COVID‑19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”) included a framework for additional public health and workplace safety measures, such as closures of additional businesses and workplaces in order to control and stop transmission in key sectors and further reduce contact and exposure with people outside of their immediate household.  A complete list of public health and workplace safety measures are found in regulations under the ROA.

Based on improvements in trends of key indicators, the government declared the provincial emergency would expire at 11:59 p.m. February 9, 2021 in accordance with the EMCPA. In public health unit (PHU) regions where the risk of COVID‑19 transmission remained a concern, including the spread of VOCs, the Stay-At-Home Order continued to apply until there was evidence key public health trends improving. As PHU regions gradually moved out of the Provincewide Shutdown, they were transitioned to a revised and strengthened Framework based on a regional approach, and with application of public health and workplace safety measures to match the level of risk of a particular PHU region.

Approach to developing emergency orders

All emergency orders were developed based on public health information available at the time, with the intent to address COVID‑19 challenges while limiting intrusiveness. The province considered the advice of the CMOH, local public health officials and other partners across the system.

Based on data that indicated COVID‑19 cases were spreading rapidly through communities and across a variety of settings and sectors, it was necessary for O. Reg. 11/21 (Stay-At-Home Order) to apply provincewide to mitigate the risk of the health care system becoming overwhelmed and unsustainable. Once data showed public health trends were improving at different rates depending on the region, the province implemented a regional approach to restrictions and measures by making 31 new emergency orders that applied the terms of the Stay-at-Home Order to specific PHU regions.

Decisions were based on public health criteria being met locally, as outlined in the revised Framework, including consideration of key public health indicators and consultation with the local Medical Officers of Health. Emergency orders were reviewed by the government at least every 14 days and amended, where necessary, or revoked as they were no longer necessary.

Emergency orders made during the second declared provincial emergency

The objectives of the emergency orders made during the second declared provincial emergency were: to support enforcement of orders under the EMCPA, the ROA and the Health Protection and Promotion Act; allow the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority to require retirement homes to implement measures to prevent, respond and alleviate the effects of COVID‑19; temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions; and limit the purposes for which people could leave home to reduce the number of contacts with those outside one's household.

List of general emergency orders made

  1. O. Reg. 8/21 – Enforcement of COVID‑19 Measures
  2. O. Reg. 13/21 – Residential Evictions
  3. O. Reg. 55/21 – Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes

List of stay-at-home emergency orders made

  1. O. Reg. 11/21 – Stay-At-Home Order
  2. O. Reg. 63/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (York Regional Health Unit)
  3. O. Reg. 64/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit)
  4. O. Reg. 65/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit)
  5. O. Reg. 66/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Waterloo Health Unit)
  6. O. Reg. 67/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Timiskaming Health Unit)
  7. O. Reg. 68/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Thunder Bay District Health Unit)
  8. O. Reg. 69/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Sudbury and District Health Unit)
  9. O. Reg. 70/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit)
  10. O. Reg. 71/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Porcupine Health Unit)
  11. O. Reg. 72/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Peterborough County — City Health Unit)
  12. O. Reg. 73/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Peel Regional Health Unit)
  13. O. Reg. 74/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Oxford Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit)
  14. O. Reg. 75/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Northwestern Health Unit)
  15. O. Reg. 76/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit)
  16. O. Reg. 77/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Niagara Regional Area Health Unit)
  17. O. Reg. 78/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Middlesex-London Health Unit)
  18. O. Reg. 79/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit)
  19. O. Reg. 80/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Lambton Health Unit)
  20. O. Reg. 81/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Huron Perth Health Unit)
  21. O. Reg. 82/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Halton Regional Health Unit)
  22. O. Reg. 83/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit)
  23. O. Reg. 84/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit)
  24. O. Reg. 85/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Grey Bruce Health Unit)
  25. O. Reg. 86/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (The Eastern Ontario Health Unit)
  26. O. Reg. 87/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Durham Regional Health Unit)
  27. O. Reg. 88/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (The District of Algoma Health Unit)
  28. O. Reg. 89/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (City of Toronto Health Unit)
  29. O. Reg. 90/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (City of Ottawa Health Unit)
  30. O. Reg. 91/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (City of Hamilton Health Unit)
  31. O. Reg. 92/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Chatham-Kent Health Unit)
  32. O. Reg. 93/21 – Stay-At-Home Order (Brant County Health Unit)