With stay-at-home orders in place, the Ontario government has approved an emergency order that temporarily pauses the enforcement of residential evictions.

This marks the third time the province has paused residential evictions since COVID reached Ontario.

According to the province, the order will come into effect on Thursday, April 8 at 12:01 am and it will -- in addition to banning residential evictions -- close all non-essential retail outlets for in-person shopping other than grocery stores and pharmacies.

Big box stores will be allowed to open for the sale of essential goods only, while all other retailers, including malls, will be restricted to curbside pickup only. During this time, residents are urged to stay home except to go to work, exercise, shop for essentials, attend medical appointments, or other necessary obligations for its duration.

READ: Month-Long Stay-at-Home Order Coming Into Effect in Ontario

The stay-at-home order is expected to last four weeks, meaning it could end on May 6.

In the midst of previous pauses on evictions, the Landlord and Tenant Board continued to hear eviction applications and issue orders, but the enforcement of eviction orders was postponed for the duration of the emergency order, except in urgent situations – such as for illegal activity. This includes orders issued, but not carried out before the emergency order came into effect.

Tenants who have been locked out of their homes by their landlord, or whose landlord has threatened to lock them out, can contact Ontario’s Rental Housing Enforcement Unit for help.

With files from Ainsley Smith.