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Province orders all non-essential workplaces to close

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (Ontario.ca Photo)

Businesses encouraged to continue operations via work-from-home, other innovative measures

TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday that the all non-essential workplaces in the province will be ordered to close Tuesday night by 11:59 p.m.

The closures, which will be in effect for at least 14 days beginning March 25, are being ordered by the province to further contain the spread of COVID-19.

“This was a tough decision, but the right decision, as this is no time for half measures,” said Ford on Monday afternoon. “But I have said from day one we will, and we must, take all steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of every Ontarian must come first. The health of you, your children, your grandparents and friends depends on all of us doing our part.”

The province is giving businesses 36 hours to prepare and adapt for the closure. Ford said that essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.

Around 8 p.m. on Monday night, the province released the list of essential workplaces. Included on the list are:

– supply chains;

– retail and wholesaling operations such as grocers, convenience stores, pet food and animal supply stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, gas stations and safety supply stores;

– restaurants (take out and drive thru only) and hotels;

– repair and maintenance services such as HVAC, electricians and plumbing;

– telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers;

– transportation services;

– manufacturing and production;

– agriculture and food production;

– construction;

– financial services such as banks, insurance services and businesses providing payment processing and payroll services;

– environmental services;

– utilities and community services such as garbage and recycling collection, power generation, police, fire and emergency services;

– newspapers, television and radio stations;

– health care, seniors care and social services;

– professional and social services that support the legal and justice system; and

– other businesses including, but not limited to, postal services, funeral homes, lawyers, staffing services, veterinarians and cheque cashing services.

A full list of essential workplaces can be viewed here.

All Ontario businesses are able to continue operating through teleworking (work-from-home) and online sales.

“While this was a difficult decision, we trust that Ontario’s business leaders will be able to promote safety while carrying out business and protecting jobs,” said Ford on Monday night. “The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need. It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Monday, March 23 at 9:25 p.m. to include information on essential workplaces.