Just days after details about Ontario’s latest stay-at-home order were announced, the provincial government is walking back some of its restrictions.
By Sunday, April 18, the government had revealed it would be reversing the some aspects of the restrictions on outdoor spaces and altering the newly announced policing powers.
Outdoor spaces & playgrounds
The new stay-at-home order, which was implemented as of April 17, 2021, included the closure of outdoor spaces including children’s playgrounds, golf courses and basketball courts.
Tweeting on Saturday about the decision to close these spaces, Premier Doug Ford confirmed, “Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced.”
The move had been widely criticized by officials in the province, with some experts suggesting the playground rule did “not make sense,” as there is a much lower risk of COVID-19 transmission outdoors.
Ford concluded his message by adding, “Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.”
…especially in the hot spot areas where we know it is urgently needed. City staff are carefully reviewing the new provincial measures announced today and we will have more to say in the days ahead.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 16, 2021
New policing powers in Ontario
One day after Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions were announced, the provincial government walked back some of its new policing powers, too.
Previously, the stay-at-home order had said that police would have the power to stop people at random to find out why they were not at home.
However, several police services across the region said they would not comply with the new power to stop residents and question their reasons for leaving home.
Other Ontario officials, including Toronto Mayor John Tory, spoke out too, with Tory saying he was “concerned” about the plan.
What has changed?
In a statement shared Saturday, according to CBC News, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said officers will no longer have the right to question pedestrians or vehicles about why they’re not at home.
“If a police officer or other provincial offences officer has reason to suspect that you are participating in an organized public event or social gathering, they may require you to provide information to ensure you are complying with restrictions,” she said.
This means that from now on, police can only stop people if they’re suspected of attending a public event or social gathering.
The notice explained that the government’s main priority is to stop gatherings and large crowds that violate the stay-at-home order.