Province Revises List of Essential Workplaces Permitted to Operate During COVID-19 Closure Order

Today, the Ontario government revised its list of essential workplaces that are permitted to remain open while its order requiring the mandatory closure of certain businesses is in effect (for background, see our previous updates regarding the government’s announcement regarding the order and initial list of essential workplaces).

The new list of essential workplaces can be viewed here.  Businesses that are not identified on this list must close their physical locations by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

The mandatory closure of “non-essential” businesses does not preclude those businesses from providing work and/or services either online, by telephone, or by mail/delivery.  Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

Significant changes from the initial version of the list include, but are not limited to:

  • The following businesses are now also expressly deemed essential:
    • Businesses that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario.
    • Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online.
    • Construction projects and services required to provide new capacity in critical provincial infrastructure.
  • The scope of essential construction work and services in the residential and non-residential sectors has been narrowed to include only certain construction activities and projects.
  • Stores that sell any of the following items are now deemed essential only to the extent that they provide such items to the customer through alternative methods of sale (such as curb side pick-up or delivery), except in exceptional circumstances:
    • Hardware products.
    • Vehicle parts and supplies.
    • Pet and animal supplies.
    • Office supplies and computer products including computer repair.
    • Safety supplies.
  • The following businesses are no longer deemed essential:
    • Cannabis stores and cannabis producers.
    • Businesses that provide non-urgent veterinary care. 
    • Seasonal campgrounds, and any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that are part of the operations of hotels, motels, and other shared rental accommodation.

The initial version of the Regulation providing for the closure of non-essential businesses (accessible here) provided that temporary access to a closed place of business was authorized, unless otherwise prohibited by law, for certain purposes, including for purposes of attending at the place of business temporarily to access materials, goods or supplies that may be necessary for the business to be operated remotely.  Currently we are not aware of any changes to this exception.

We will continue to monitor developments related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace and will post further updates as information becomes available.


Evan Daikov