Ontario is shutting down all non-essential services
The Ontario government has officially ordered all non-essential services in the province to shut down for at least a two-week period amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a press conference Monday afternoon and said the order would come into effect Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.
The news comes after Toronto health officials recommended all non-essential businesses in the city shut down days ago, but many failed to comply.
Today I announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces to slow the spread of COVID-19. These measures will come into effect on Tues March 24th at midnight. People will still have access to medications and essentials, but every Ontarian must do their part.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 23, 2020
"This was a tough decision, but the right decision, as this is no time for half measures," Ford said.
"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 health of you, your children, your grandparents and friends depends on all of us doing our part."
The province is set to release a detailed list tomorrow of all businesses that are considered essential and are permitted to stay open.
It's expected to include any business needed to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.
Other businesses that have the ability to continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, will have approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt.
The province also said a 1-800 number and website will be made available on Wednesday for anyone with questions about the rule.
"Based on the advice of Dr. Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at our Command Table, Ontario is taking further action to contain the spread of COVID-19," said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, in a statement.
"These enhanced measures are necessary to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. Nothing is more important."
The province of Ontario reported its biggest one-day leap of 78 new cases today, bringing the provincial total to 503.
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