COVID-19 Pandemic: Ontario orders all non-essential businesses to shut down

A week after declaring a state of emergency in the province, Premier Doug Ford has ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Monday March 23, 2020. The order is said to come into effect on Tuesday March 24, 2020 at midnight and will remain in place for at least two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This was a very tough decision but it is the right decision. This is not the time for half-measures. This decision was not made lightly. The gravity of this order does not escape me. But as I said from day one, we will and must take all the steps to slow the spread of COVID-19” the premier said.  

In addition, the premier has noted that within the next 36 hours, non-essential businesses will be given the time to adapt and prepare as the provincial government will be announcing its list of what is deemed non-essential and essential businesses by Tuesday. 

Ontario reported 78 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial total to 503.

It’s the largest increase in a day so far. The total includes six deaths and eight cases that have fully resolved.    Ford also announced that Ontario is providing a $200-million funding boost for social services, including shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and non-profits.   

Ontario has also enhanced its COVID-19 self-assessment tool, making it interactive and allowing the province to gather data from it.  

The new tool takes users through a series of questions about their symptoms and will help them determine if they are likely to have COVID-19 and what to do. 

The government also says Ontario has 58 dedicated COVID-19 assessment centres running, well up from the 38 Ford said were open just a few days ago. 

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