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Ford says list of essential businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic is 'adjustable'
TORONTO -- Hours before non-essential businesses are set to close in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford noted the list released by his government is “adjustable” as they continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Progressive Conservative government released a list of what they deem to be “essential” businesses late Monday night. The list includes 74 business types that are exempt from Ford’s order to close as they are considered necessary to keep the supply chain going or day-to-day life.
Included in the list are grocery stores, pharmacies, alcohol and cannabis retailers, gas stations, construction sites, telecommunication services and real estate services.
Telecommunication and power agencies will continue to operate and child care services will remain open for essential workers. The LCBO and The Beer Store will also stay open.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Ford said the list was adjustable and meant to provide Ontarians with the necessities of life.
“There are a lot of questions regarding what can and cannot remain open. And our officials are working with businesses across the province to give clarity,” he said.
“What may not seem essential to downtown Toronto or urban areas may be essential to rural Ontario and the same goes for the other way around.”
Ford said the list was made following extensive consultation with retail associations, labour leaders and Ontario Public Service.
“Probably a hundred people vetted it,” he said, noting that his cabinet studied the list line-by-line for hours throughout the duration of two days.
The list is also subject to change, Ford said.
“I want to be very clear, that list can be adjusted. Items can be taken off or added. It is going to be an open list."
Most construction sites are remaining open for the time being, but Ford said he will not hesitate to shut a site down if necessary steps aren’t taken to protect workers.
“Our chief prevention officer has sent our new guidelines for construction sites and there are currently dozens of provincial labour inspectors at numerous large job sites to ensure appropriate protocols are in place,” he said.
The premier also addressed their decision to keep the LCBO and The Beer Store open by labelling them as essential businesses. He said that shutting down those services, as well as cannabis services, may create a “burden on the healthcare system” during the pandemic.
“There are people out there with addictions,” Ford said. “We are there to help them, we are there to support them”