Ontario’s state of emergency will expand to shut down all non-essential services to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Today, 78 new cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in Ontario, bringing the province’s total cases up to 503. This prompted Premier Doug Ford to reconsider the terms of Ontario’s state of emergency.
Starting tomorrow at 11:59 p.m., only essential services like supply-chain and manufacturing providers, LCBO, grocery stores, pharmacies and takeout restaurants will remain operational after the terms are finalized on Mar. 24.
“The next 36 hours will give non-essential businesses the chance to adapt and prepare,” said Ford.
This order will last for 14 days, ending on April 6th, but Ford is prepared to extend the order if necessary.
My first priority is keeping all Ontarians safe. Today I ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective March 24th at midnight. If you can work from home you may continue to do so. We will remain vigilant and strong, and we will get through this together
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 23, 2020
“This decision was not made lightly and the gravity of this order does not escape me. But as I’ve said from day one, we will and we must take all the steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Ford.
Following the advice of Prime Minister Trudeau and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, David Williams, Ford decided to enact this order late Sunday.
The solicitor general said enforcement measures will be taken as needed.
“Our policing partners will be actively engaged and will be a part of that enforcement if and when it is necessary,” said Sylvia Jones
When asked about financial support for non-essential businesses, Ford said details will come when the government provides a financial plan on Mar. 25.
Ford was also asked if non-essential services would include construction sites after a letter was left on social media for Ford by the Central Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council on the condition of work sites. Ford said that he has been in touch with unions and construction companies about how to proceed at this time.
“A message to every construction worker in this province: you don’t feel safe, you don’t feel that you have the proper equipment, or the company’s not keeping you safe, leave the site. Leave the site and don’t come back,” said Ford.
In the same conference, the Premier also mentioned that all schools will not reopen on April 6.
“I know everyone in this province knows the reality is, April 6 is not realistic right now. We are in a state of emergency, we’re making sure people are safe. Our priority is to make sure our kids are safe. That is the number one priority,” said Ford.