So what’s open after tonight?

All “at-risk workplaces” are ordered to close as of midnight tonight to help combat the evolving coronavirus problem, Premier Doug Ford has announced.

This includes all non-essential businesses, although work can still be carried on by those businesses working from home and online, according to statements from the Ontario premier’s office at 8:30 p.m. yesterday. The statements outlined the workplaces considered essential.

The statement follows a press conference earlier in the day when Ford announced the coming closures.

What does that leave open tomorrow?

In its summary of essential businesses, the government includes grocery stores, pharmacies, telecommunications and IT infrastructure service providers, and providers of power, natural gas and clean drinking water.

In a more detailed “List of Essential Workplaces,” also released from the premier’s office yesterday, the government itemizes 74 kinds of businesses. (See the entire list here.)

So what stores are we likely to find open in our local areas?

First, any kind of enterprise or service that can operate by phone or online is encouraged to stay in business, even if they have to shut down their brick-and-mortar store or office functions.

But local businesses allowed to stay open, operating from their storefronts, include:

  • grocery stores
  • convenience stores
  • pharmacies
  • health care
  • pet stores
  • veterinarians and pet hospitals
  • beer, wine and liquor stores
  • cannabis shops
  • gas stations and other fuel providers
  • car and truck dealers
  • car and truck maintenance
  • bicycle repair
  • hardware stores
  • office supply and services
  • computer products and maintenance
  • safety supply stores, including work clothes
  • restaurants for delivery or takeout
  • hotels and motels
  • banks and credit unions
  • insurance
  • food banks
  • women’s shelters
  • homeless shelters

Plus, local services allowed to continue operating, while observing the same health and safety rules in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, include:

  • plumbers
  • electricians
  • custodial and cleaning services
  • legal and paralegal services
  • security services
  • taxis
  • transportation services
  • waste management
  • recycling
  • insurance
  • utilities and supporting businesses
  • newspaper publishers and broadcasters
  • emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physio-therapists
  • home care for seniors
  • rental and leasing services for vehicles and equipment
  • postal services
  • courier, shipping and delivery
  • funeral and burial services

All businesses staying open should put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing to protect the health and safety of employees and the public, Ford also warned.

“The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need,” he said. “It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free.”

John Tory declaring emergency
STATE OF EMERGENCY: Toronto mayor John Tory made the declaration yesterday via video.

The new measures were backed up by a declaration from Toronto mayor John Tory’s yesterday.

“We are declaring a State of Emergency as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead,” Tory announced in a video statement. “I know this is an incredibly tough time for residents across our city. I want them to know that we are doing everything we can at the City to fight this virus while continuing to deliver our essential and critical services.”

Mayor Tory encouraged residents to stay home, venturing out to buy essential supplies once a week or ordering online.

The decision to declare a state of emergency declaration was taken as part of a collaborative effort and cooperation with the Ontario government led by Ford and the Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, both of whom Tory has worked with throughout the crisis, he said.