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Province to close all non-essential services and businesses

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The provincial government has announced all non-essential workplaces in Ontario will be shutting their doors to fight COVID-19.

“Today I’m ordering the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in the province of Ontario,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This order will be effective Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. for 14 days. The next 36-hours will give non-essential businesses the chance to adapt and prepare.”

Ford added a list of what is essential and non-essential will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24.

“The gravity of this order does not escape me, but as I’ve said since day one, we will, and we must, take all steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Ford.

Businesses which can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt.

Essential services will be able to continue operations in order to maintain supply chains. Ontarians will continue to have access to necessities, including groceries, medicine, and other essential products.

Ford noted people may be wondering why now, and it’s because it’s important to get ahead of the virus, and to try to slow it down.

“It means food will remain on the shelves. It means Ontarians will still have access to their medications and essential products. It means that power will still stay on, and telecommunications will continue to run,” said Ford.

While slowing down the spread is important, Ford also looked at other nations and the effect the virus is having on them.

“We’ve seen global economies grind to a halt. We’ve seen healthcare systems overwhelmed, we’ve seen heartache and loss, and we’ve seen countries lose this battle,” said Ford. “We in Ontario will not follow in those footsteps. We will not lose this battle, we will get ahead of this for the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

The premier also reinforced the need for those returning to the country to self-isolate.

“To all the snowbirds and the Canadians returning home from abroad, you must self-isolate. I repeat, you must self-isolate,” said Ford. “The health of your friends, your children, and your grandparents depend on this. You and every Ontarian must do their part.”

A list of essential and non-essential services will be made available tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, and the province will release a 1-800 number and website on Wednesday, March 25.