COVID-19: Mandatory closure for non-essential businesses in Ontario

Published On March 23, 2020 | By tylerbiggs | Features, News
Pedestrians cross quiet downtown streets as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2020. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

This is a timeline of COVID-19 news in Canada and around the world on Monday, March 23.

3:30 p.m.: Mayor John Tory has declared a state of emergency in Toronto in an expanded effort to combat COVID-19.

“We are declaring a State of Emergency as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Tory in a news release. “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.”

The announcement came just after the provincial government ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Details on what the state of emergency means will be outlined at a later date.

2:00 p.m.: The International Olympic Committee has postponed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Veteran IOC committee member Dick Pound told USA today that “the games are not going to start on July 24.” He went on further to say he believes the 2020 games should be delayed for a full year.

A rescheduled date has not been set.

1:30 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses after Toronto sees a single-day record of coronavirus cases.

Ontario confirmed 78 new cases of COVID-19 earlier today, bringing the total to 503 cases and 6 deaths.

Ford said he will take enforcement action to ensure workplaces stay closed for two weeks but said he was not shutting down businesses. He indicated several places will have to adapt to the current climate in order to survive.

“It doesn’t mean closing business. It means your facility, we don’t want people in a facility,’ said Ford as his afternoon news conference. “The decision was not made lightly.”

Ontario is now joining Quebec in the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses.

Details will be provided on Tuesday about which businesses will be allowed to stay open.

Ontario still has 8,417 cases under investigation and 19,586 people have tested negative for COVID-19.

The provincial government also announced $200-million in social services funding. The money is expected to help “critical services, hire additional staff and promote social distancing and self-isolation to keep clients safe and healthy,” said Ford.

11:15 a.m.: “Enough is enough. Go home and stay home,” said a stern Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his Monday morning news conference.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes a sip of water at a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 19, 2020. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

Trudeau is seemingly unsatisfied with the number of people staying home said he has resisted the idea of putting the Emergencies Act into effect but wouldn’t rule it out.

This act would see special temporary measures taken to ensure safety and security during national emergencies. It would take the power out of the hands of the provinces and elevate decisions to the federal level.

No province has asked for the Emergencies Act yet.

To further inform the public, Trudeau announced the launch of a $30-million ad campaign that started today and is meant to advise Canadians about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Trudeau also announced $192 million to help develop and mass-produce a vaccine for suppressing the virus once someone creates it.

Today: Premier Doug Ford also announced $200 million in funding for municipalities to spend on social services to help vulnerable citizens.

The money is expected to help “critical services, hire additional staff and promote social distancing and self-isolation to keep clients safe and healthy,” said Ford.

This funding is also being given to support homeless shelters, social services organizations and food banks. Many of which have reported empty shelves due to the COVID-19 panic-buying.

10:00 a.m.: The Ontario Ministry of Health has significantly enhanced COVID-19 screening measures with a new enhanced and interactive self-assessment tool.

The short quiz will quickly ask a few questions and help people determine if or how they should contact health care providers.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliot encouraged everyone to take the time and complete the assessment. “Ontarians will be able to make informed choices about what to do,” said Elliot. “While the Province collects real-time data to enhance our ongoing response.”

Those who cannot access the page can also call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

7:30 a.m.: Air Transat has temporarily laid off about 3,600 people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cut will see around 70% of their workforce without jobs after April 1, when Air Transat plans to stop flights. Some lay-offs will take effect immediately.

Remaining executives and members of its board of directors have accepted voluntary pay cuts.

Air Transat joined other airlines in suspending services. Air Canada laid off more than 5,000 employees on Friday. Porter Airlines cancelled all their flights till June 1.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is considering all options when it comes to a bailout of the airline industry.

This Morning: Canada will not be sending their athletes to the Tokyo Olympics unless they are postponed one-year.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee issued a joint statement over concerns of the COVID-19 virus and the IOC’s stance on the upcoming tournament.

Australia also joined the Olympic boycott just days after they upgraded to a level four travel ban, the highest the country has ever set.

This would not be the first time the Olympics has faced real-world issues. In 1916, 1940 and 1944 the games were cancelled due to the world wars and six other instances on boycotting throughout its history.

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