As of March 24, 2020, Ontario has declared a “State of Emergency” under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
To date, this is in effect until May 6, 2020, but it may be extended.
Only “essential” businesses may remain open.
DEFINITION OF “ESSENTIAL” BUSINESSES:
“Essential” businesses currently are:
- Healthcare Services – hospitals, laboratories, health facilities, and manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products.
- Supply Chains – businesses which support or supply systems or services in a supply chain such as processing, packaging, distribution, delivery, and maintenance.
- Retail and Wholesaling – businesses which sell food, pet foods, supplies necessary to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential operations such as grocery stores or supermarkets.
- Agriculture, Production, and Food Services – agricultural operations and food production businesses are allowed to remain open during this period. Restaurants will be allowed to open only for take-out or delivery options during this period.
- Financial Services – banks, credit unions, insurance, capital market operations (such as stock exchanges), and businesses that provide payroll or payment processing services.
- Utilities – utilities such as electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and storage, natural gas services, emergency first-responders (police, firefighters, paramedics), and government services.
- Other – childcare services for essential workers, medical research facilities, telecommunications and media, and long-term care facilities.
The full list of essential businesses in Ontario is here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200082
The Province of Ontario also announced that effective May 4, 2020, certain other businesses not included on this list of “essential” services will be allowed to gradually re-open business operations. These businesses include garden centres and nurseries, lawn care and landscaping services, additional construction projects for telecommunications, shipping, schools, and construction site development. The full list of these businesses is here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/05/certain-businesses-allowed-to-reopen-under-strict-safety-guidelines.html
PENALTIES FOR FAILING TO COMPLY:
Businesses which do not belong to a category of “essential” business and continue to operate during this period risk incurring the following penalties under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:
- an individual could be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year;
- an individual who is a director or officer of a corporation could be subject to a fine of not more than $500,000 and for a term of imprisonment of not more than one year; and
- a corporation could be subject to a fine of not more than $10,000,000.
Municipal by-law officers and municipal or provincial police officers are enforcing this emergency order. They are empowered to issue warnings, fines, or summonses to “non-essential” businesses and their directors, officers, and employees which maintain business operations during this mandatory closure. Municipalities may also have specific by-laws which further limit business operations within these jurisdictions.