UPDATE: Ontario non-essential businesses ordered to close

Premier Doug Ford speaks to the media March 23, 2020.

All non-essential businesses in Ontario will be ordered to close for 14 days as of the end of the day Tuesday.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Monday afternoon. The closure will not affect grocery stores, pharmacies, or manufacturers making essential products like medical supplies. A full list of more than 70 types of businesses that will be allowed to stay open was released online Monday evening and can be found by clicking here.

“We’re prepared to extend this order 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 and the gravity of this order does not escape me. 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 premier said.

Ford said they will police the order if necessary but he expects most businesses to close on their own.

“We have hundreds of thousands of businesses small, medium, and large, in the province. We have to police ourselves. Will we have bylaw enforcement? Yes, we will. But we have scarce resources, everyone is going around the clock, so when we ask non-essential businesses to close down, we’re asking them to close down. If they want to break that there will be consequences but we don’t want to run that way, we’re all in this together,” said Ford.

Resources for businesses forced to close will be announced on Wednesday.

When asked about the opening of schools in Ontario during the news conference, Premier Ford admitted that they will not re-open on April 6 as originally planned. However, he was not able to provide a new date for their re-opening.