Ontario extends business closures amid COVID-19 crisis

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At an April 3 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which included extending the closure of businesses.

The Ontario government is reducing the list of businesses classified as essential and after following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, they are ordering more workplaces to close as of April 4, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

While necessary goods and services including grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency veterinary services will still be available, the measure to close more workplaces is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve to protect the health of Ontarians.

Although this is a temporary measure, this closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension.

“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.”

Today’s announcement also stated that construction projects will too come to a halt. 

While residential construction that is near completion will continue, new residential projects will stop and only critical projects will continue.

These include industrial projects such as refineries and petrochemical plants and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges.

“Now is the true test of how Ontario will weather this storm. The numbers reveal a disastrous path avoided,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, adding that now is not the time for complacency and that we must remain vigilant. 

“We cannot do this alone. We are relying on every single Ontarian to join us in this battle. If you don't join us in this battle, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed.”

Additionally, the government is implementing more measures to protect frontline workers in essential businesses by adding over 60 special consultants and officers.

They are also doubling the number of phone agents at its Health and Safety Call Centre to 50 to make it easier for workers to report safety concerns.

“We recognize the toll this outbreak is taking on business owners and workers,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

“Ontario businesses are top of mind during this unprecedented time. We know that the only way to ensure the health of our businesses and our economy is to ensure the health of all Ontarians.”

When Ford was asked how far he will go in terms of fully implementing measures against the virus, he told reporters they will do everything that it takes.

“If you've looked at what we’ve done in two weeks, it’s astonishing,” said Ford.

“We’ve shut down the vast majority of our economy. Everyone, for the most part, is listening and social distancing,” he said, adding that they will always take advice from doctors to do everything they possibly can.

“Our number one priority is to save lives.”

As stressed by Ford, everyone in Ontario should stay home with the exception of necessities and practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to others.

They should also avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of their immediate families, wash their hands often with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid touching their faces and avoid contact with those who are sick.

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