The Government of Ontario announced a province-wide declaration of emergency and a stay-at-home order effective April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. The time-limited measures and restrictions will help slow the increase in COVID-19 cases, preserve public health system capacity, allow for progress to be made with vaccination and save lives. Everyone must stay at home except for essential purposes such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including vaccination appointments), or for essential work.
What’s on this page?
What does it mean to be COVID-safe?
Being COVID-safe means assessing your actions, thinking things through, and taking deliberate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Making informed choices will help to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. To reduce your risks and stay COVID-safe, always follow public health recommendations and avoid the three C’s (Health Canada) as much as possible; closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact.
Avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close contact
You are more likely to contract and/or spread the virus if you are indoors, especially in closed spaces with poor ventilation. Enjoying activities outdoors or in large open areas is a COVID-safe way to get out and participate in your community.
Areas that don’t have large numbers or people gathered are a lower risk option when considering where to spend time. Going out during off-peak times is a COVID-safe way to limit the number of people you are interacting with and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Only allow close contact like shaking hands and hugging with members of your household. Keep a physical distance of at least 2 metres from everyone else. A physical distance of 2 metres is about the length of one hockey stick. If you are unable to maintain your physical distance, wear a mask or face covering for added protection.
How can you be COVID-safe? (Rules to live by)
With so many announcements about COVID-19—from stages of reopening to personal precautions—it can be hard to know what rules are currently in place.
The following COVID-Rules-to-Live-By will keep us going for the long haul and will go a long way to protect our health, our health care system, our schools, and our jobs and economy.
1. Stick to your household contacts
As of Saturday, October 3, 2020, at 12:01 a.m, the Government of Ontario is pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.
2. Keep 2 metres distance from anyone not in your household contacts
Continue to practise physical distancing in all settings. For example, people at your table in restaurants and bars must be those in your household. Stay 2 metres away from everyone else, especially when it’s not possible to cover your face.
3. Use your face covering in enclosed indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep 2 metres distance outdoors
Keep a face covering (i.e. mask, scarf, bandana, etc.) with you so you can use it when you need it.
4. Avoid gatherings of any size
Provincial gathering limits may vary, but public health measures stay the same. Ask yourself if the gathering is necessary and if so, assess your risk and determine how you can make the activity safer.
5. Avoid non-essential travel
Area residents are being exposed to the virus through travel outside our region. Ask yourself if the travel is necessary and if so, plan ahead on how you will keep COVID-safe.
6. Wash your hands
Wash your hands often and when visibly dirty, for 15 seconds. Make a habit of carrying hand sanitizer with you.
7. Stay home when ill
The easiest way to reduce transmission is to stay home. If you have a COVID-19 symptom, get tested.
8. Get tested
If you have a COVID-19 symptom, if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through your work, contact an assessment centre and get tested. Remember, you can still be infected after a negative test. A negative result should not be treated as a free pass to let your guard down. Continue to take precautions.
9. Work remotely
Continue to work remotely, where possible. Reducing our time in the workplace reduces the possibility of introducing the virus to new environments. If you cannot work remotely, follow public health guidance for workplaces.
10. Practise kindness, patience, and gratitude—we are all in this together
Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules.
These COVID-rules-to-live-by are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely.
Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules. The Top-10-COVID-Rules-to-Live-By are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely. Learn more about each of the rules and download our 11 x 17″ poster (PDF, 607 KB).
Your actions matter
Your actions matter to keep yourself and others COVID-safe. It is important to think ahead and understand risks for COVID-19. Risk levels may vary based on activity.
Reduce your risk by connecting closely only with people living in your own household. Keep a distance of 2 metres and wear a mask or face covering with everyone else. Consider participating in lower-risk activities and following public health tips for going out safely (Health Canada).
Think about the risks
COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels throughout the community and the province. To protect yourself and others, the safest options are to avoid non-essential travel, and as much as possible, limit outings to essentials like going to work or school, picking up groceries, attending a medical appointment, or engaging in outdoor physical activity. For all outings, continue to practise COVID-safe behaviours like distancing and wearing a face covering.
Here are a few examples of lower risk activities you may choose to do:
- Going for a walk in your neighbourhood
- Backyard BBQ with your family
- Visiting community parks and beaches with public health measures
- Sightseeing in your personal vehicle
- Visiting family members outdoors while practicing physical distancing and wearing a face covering and careful handwashing
Some higher risk activities include:
- Gathering at indoor spaces such as movie theatres, restaurants, and bars
- Crowded public transportation
- Indoor parties
We recognize that some activities are not optional. It’s important to continue to follow public health measures by washing your hands, keeping a distance of 2 metres, and wearing a mask or face covering when doing essential activities such as:
- Grocery shopping
- Getting the mail
- Going to the pharmacy
- Visiting a health care provider
- Commuting to work using public transportation
- Essential travel for work
If you get symptoms, even mild ones, do not participate in any activities and make an appointment to get tested.
Safe holidays and celebrations
Staying connected with loved ones and friends is important but COVID-19 does not take holidays. While we continue to navigate a global pandemic, celebrations have to look a little different. When planning, hosting, or attending a holiday celebration think about how you can modify your activities in a COVID-safe way.
- Consider the current situation of COVID-19 in your area when planning your events or gatherings.
- Use local public health guidance to make the safest decision.
- Recognize that public health measures are adjusted based on evolving situations across the province and region.
- Stay informed to know whether you should postpone, cancel, or limit your gathering.
Easter is special day celebrated by many. As we continue to follow public health measures you will need to celebrate a little differently this year.
Only celebrate in-person with people living in your own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household. Remember, in grey-lockdown, it is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you plan to celebrate:
- Keep your celebration to the people you live with. If you live alone, you can have close contact with one other household.
- Consider creative alternatives to traditional celebrations:
- Have fun with decorations or create fun crafts.
- Set up a scavenger hunt for members of your household or treat hunt around your home or yard.
- Connect in the kitchen and come up with your own food creations.
- Postpone celebrating if you have any symptoms, even if they are mild. Get tested straight away, and until you have results, you and everyone else you live with must stay home.
- Celebrate outdoors! Go for a walk in your neighborhood or explore a local trail. Remember to maintain physical distancing as much as possible and to wear a face-covering outdoors if keeping distancing is difficult.
- If you are outdoors, limit your gathering to 10 people, and always maintain distance from those not part of your household.
- Remember to wash your hands before and during meal preparation if you are cooking a special Easter dinner for the people you live with.
- Connect virtually with friends and family you do not live with.
Stay informed and be prepared
Canadians’ best defense against COVID-19 is to stay informed and be prepared. Anyone can post anything online. It’s important to think critically about posts to decide if it’s truthful and safe. Here are some tips to help you decide whether information is worth considering:
- Check that the information came from a trusted source.
- Check what public health officials and the government are saying.
- Read the entire story or post. Sometimes headlines can be misleading.
The following are examples credible sources of information.
For more information and credible resources, visit our COVID-19 resources page.
This item was last modified on April 9, 2021