Essential Business: What Is, What Isn’t?

What is an essential service in the coronavirus crisis?

Photo: Construction work in the residential sector has been cleared to continue

THE LIST OF “essential” businesses that are spared Ontario’s COVID-19 shutdown starting Wednesday is lengthy, and for many sectors and sub-industries, a little tough to figure out. Here’s a rundown of some of the most noteworthy businesses and services included, with a link to the full list at the end.

Number one on the government’s list is, broadly speaking, “supply chains.” These are businesses that “supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate.”

The LCBO, Beer Store, and other shops selling “beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers” are on the list, as are cannabis stores and cannabis producers. LCBOs will, however, be closed on Mondays starting March 30. Grocery stores, convenience stores, markets and “other similar retailers” are also considered essential.

Gas stations, hardware stores, pharmacies, and safety supply stores (businesses offering personal protective equipment) make the cut, as do car and bike repair shops.

Restaurants can stay open but only for delivery or takeaway, says the government, and food delivery services, as well as taxis and ride-sharing services, can operate as well. Hotels and motels are on the list, too.

Stores providing supplies “essential to the health and welfare of animals,” like pet stores, will remain open for the time being as well

Phone and internet companies, along with their call centres and support facilities should continue to operate.

Many construction projects will keep chugging along, as developments “associated with the health care sector,” and those “required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure” will get the green light. Also, construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors are cleared to go ahead. 

Additionally, banking and financial services will continue operating, as will a host of related services.

For the full list, click here. 

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