Provincial government releases list of essential businesses

Published March 23, 2020 10:06 p.m. ET
Updated March 24, 2020 6:45 p.m. ET

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KITCHENER -- The Ontario government has released a lengthy list of businesses that will be deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list, posted Monday night on the province's website, covers places including grocery stores, pet food stores, gas stations, beer, wine and liquor stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants serving takeout and many more.

Altogether, the government lists some 74 categories of businesses deemed essential, a sweeping list that includes more than a dozen different industries.

While the list of industries is long, there are stipulations within each industry, as outlined on the province's website. The categories that are listed are as follows:

  • Supply chains
  • Retail and wholesaling
  • Food services and accommodations
  • Institutional, residential, commercial and industrial maintenance
  • Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing and production
  • Agriculture and food production
  • Construction
  • Financial activities
  • Resources
  • Environmental services
  • Utilities and community services
  • Communications industries
  • Research
  • Health care and seniors care and social services
  • Justice sector
  • Other businesses

The release came after Premier Doug Ford announced early Monday afternoon that all non-essential businesses are to close their doors this week to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order will come into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, and will remain in place for 14 days.

Ford did say however it will be extended if necessary.

"This was a very, very tough decision but it is the right decision. This is not the time for half measures. This decision was not made lightly. The gravity of this order does not escape me. But as I said from day one, we will and must take all the steps to slow the spread of COVID-19," he said in Monday’s press conference.

Tracy Van Kalsbeek of the Uptown Waterloo BIA says that some businesses in the area are adjusting to the ever-evolving situation.

"They are selling retail goodies and what not online," she said. "Restaurants and eateries that are available and to still do delivery."

Waterloo photography business owner Hannah Marie is one of many making adjustments.

"I'm trying to figure out if there's another income source like teaching courses online," she said.

Meanwhile, construction labour groups concerned about working conditions are pushing back.

"It's good the province is allowing everyone who feels uncomfortable to stop going to the site," said University of Toronto professor Tamer El-Diraby. "Not going to work is going to be hitting them hard."

When asked why liquor and cannabis stores are remaining open, Premier Ford said the decision came after consultation with experts in addiction and mental health.

He added that closing those stores could ultimately put too much of a burden on the health care system.


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