Ontario ordering non-essential businesses to close
All “non-essential” workplaces in Ontario have been ordered closed effective 11:59 p.m. Tuesday for 14 days as the battle against COVID-19 reaches a critical stage.
“We’re prepared to extend this order, if necessary,” Premier Doug Ford said Monday. “This was a very, very tough decision but it is the right decision. This is not the time for half measures.”
Ontarians will still be able to access groceries, medications, electricity and telecommunications, he said.
A government source said the LCBO, the Beer Store and the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) and its licensed private retailers are not expected to be included in the closure order.
Businesses not providing services deemed essential were given 36-hours’ notice to figure out how to work remotely or continue their operations through other means.
More details on which businesses can stay open will be released Tuesday, Ford said.
While the government has exempted construction from mandatory shutdowns to date, Ford said he’s aware some sites are not ensuring workers have access to sanitary conditions.
“Get your act together,” Ford said. “To have an outhouse overflowing … it’s unacceptable. And if they won’t do it, we will do it.”
In a message to returning travellers, including snowbirds, Ford said they need to think of their grandparents and grandchildren and head straight home.
Some people returning from abroad are going shopping instead of following strict orders to isolate for two weeks, he said.
“I’m sorry the rules in Florida are not the rules here in Ontario,” Ford said. “Down in the U.S., it is spreading rapidly right across their country. We have to take strict measures to make sure that people, once they arrive, go directly home.”
Finance Minister Rod Phillips, who postponed his budget and will release a fiscal statement Wednesday, said it will reflect the upended economic situation.
“It’s going to be the most prudent statement that any finance minister in Ontario has ever made,” Phillips said.
Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said businesses will do their part in this society-wide effort to control COVID-19.
However, many companies will not have the ability to continue their business online or from home, he said.
Announcements that some expenses, like property taxes, will be deferred for businesses are welcome but significant cuts will be needed given how long workplaces will be closed, he said.
For instance, governments in other jurisdictions have shouldered a large portion of wages, which is preferable to Canada’s offer to extend EI, he said.
“What we need to do is keep the economy afloat, individuals and businesses afloat, so that they can be there when the health crisis comes to an end and we’re rebuilding the economy,” Rossi said. “We all want to starve the virus. We just don’t want to starve the economy in the process.”
Source: Toronto Sun
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