‘This is a matter of life and death’: Ontario reduces list of essential workplaces

Ford: ‘If you are not an essential business, you need to close your doors’

TORONTO — The province is reducing the number of essential businesses and ordering more workplaces to close in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Doug Ford announced the new list of essential businesses on April 3, ordering all businesses not covered by the updated emergency order to close by 11:59pm on April 4.

This order, Ford said, will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of an extension.

Businesses not classified as essential are permitted and strongly encouraged, Ford said, to partake in online commerce, teleworking, work-from-home and other “innovative ways of working remotely” during the shutdown.

Ford said this was done on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.

“We are facing a critical moment in the fight against COVID-19 and we must do everything in our power to keep everyone safe and healthy and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,” said Premier Ford.

“Everyone must do their part to stop the spread and flatten the curve. If you are not an essential business, you need to close your doors, work from home if possible and play a role to help contain this outbreak. This is a matter of life and death.”

All supply chains necessary for the production of vital food and health care supplies are being protected and remain intact.

“We have now reached a critical time in our fight against COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Every step taken by the province and every effort made by each of us to avoid close contact with others are the key to our success as a province to stop the spread of this virus.”

The complete, updated list of essential businesses can be viewed online. Included on the list are:

  • supply chains that supply other essential businesses or services in Ontario or have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario;
  • businesses that sell food and beverages, including grocery stores, convenience stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, restaurants (take-out, drive through and delivery only), and beer and liquor stores;
  • pharmacies; gas stations and fuel suppliers; laundromats; security services; vehicle and equipment repair; courier, postal, shipping/moving and delivery services; funeral and related services; staffing services; veterinary services (urgent care only); hotels/motels; and cheque cashing services;
  • financial services;
  • IT services, phone providers, internet providers;
  • newspapers, radio and television broadcasting;
  • transportation services;
  • agriculture businesses that produce, process, manufacture or distribute food and beverage products, as well as those that support food or agricultural product supply chains;
  • essential construction projects that support the health care sector, transit, in-progress residential construction projects, and those that are necessary to close non-essential construction sites;
  • resources and energy;
  • community services such as water/wastewater, recycling, roads maintenance, police, fire and paramedics; and
  • health care and social services.

Some businesses have had their services restricted to alternative methods of sale, such as stores that sell hardware, vehicle parts, pet and animal supplies, office and computer supplies, and safety supplies.

These businesses may remain open but will have to provide service through curb side pickup or delivery.

Business owners with questions concerning their essential business status are asked to call the province’s Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 8:30am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.