What Is Considered An “Essential Business” During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Photo: Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Cannabis retailers and hardware stores are now closed and some construction halted as Ontario Premier Doug Ford added 30 more businesses to the list of non-essential services. Businesses had to shut their doors by midnight April 5 for a minimum of two weeks. In Quebec, the province extended its non-essential closure rules until May 4. "If we relax our efforts, we'll just delay the moment when we'll be able to go back to our lives," said Quebec Premier François Legault at a press conference. Here is a full list of essential businesses in Ontario, which includes grocery stores, gas stations, and beer, wine, and liquor stores.
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Original story follows.
The coronavirus pandemic is quickly introducing new ways of life to the general public: people are singing 20-second tunes while thoroughly washing their hands, groceries, and hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves. Travel plans have been put on pause for the unforeseeable future and universities are closing. New words are also finding their way into our vocabulary: between “social distancing” and “flattening the curve,” references to COVID-19 and how to stop it are continuing to upend our everyday thoughts.
Now, amid a series of government announcements from both federal and provincial health officials, including the limiting of group gatherings and some businesses shuttering their doors indefinitely, many are referring to "essential businesses" as immune from these processes. But what are these essential businesses that governments have deemed important enough to remain open as we begin to lockdown? And what is considered a non-essential business?
Essential businesses are ones that the public rely on in their day-to-day life. This includes banks, hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, post offices, and the like. They carry supplies necessary for survival, both in the long and short-term. In contrast, non-essential businesses are those that people frequent for pleasure, like gyms, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, museums, and concert halls, among others. Many non-essential businesses are hubs of social interaction, making the effects of the coronavirus sting all the more detrimental for the masses who are effectively practising social distancing.
A state of emergency has been declared in Ontario, B.C., Nova Scotia, and Alberta, with bars, restaurants, and other non-essential services ordered to close. The levels differ slightly with Ontario declaring a general state of emergency while Alberta's is specific to public health. Saskatchewan is now the latest province to declare after announcing eight new cases on last week.
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In a joint announcement last week, Trudeau announced that both Canada and the U.S. are closing their borders for non-essential travel, like tourism.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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