The Ontario government has further narrowed down what businesses are considered essential as it tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Included on the list of businesses now deemed inessential are the government-owned Ontario Cannabis Store retail locations. They, like all other businesses de-listed, must close by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday night. The stores will still be permitted to deliver their products. The closure will be in effect for at least 14 days, and will be subject to an extension.
While OCS retail locations will shut down, the Beer Store and Liquor Control Board of Ontario locations will remain open. Premier Doug Ford previously said that it's on the advice of health experts that they remain open, as some people with addiction issues have a physical dependence on alcohol.
Some retailers will be restricted to curbside drop-offs, including hardware stores, vehicle parts, and office and pet supplies.
In his daily afternoon press availability the premier made the case for why more businesses had to be taken off the list, arguing that the potential lives saved by preventing the spread of the coronavirus make it worth it.
"We've basically shut down our whole economy," said Ford, who had previously made Ontario's booming economic times a key part of his political brand and pitch for re-election.
He argued that only what is absolutely essential should remain open given that the context has shifted so significantly in the past month. "You have to keep the pharmacies open," he said, adding that continuity in the supply chain for food is also important. Failing to do so, he warned, would result in "anarchy, civil disobedience."
Restrictions of a different kind were placed in the U.S. The American multi-national company 3M, which produces medical masks among other goods, announced that it had been prohibited by the U.S. from selling medical-grade masks to any country aside from the U.S., including Canada. In a strongly worded statement the company said such a prohibition would have "significant humanitarian implications." The company warned that the action could decrease the U.S. medical mask supply because it could invite reciprocal retaliation from other countries that produce masks.
Ford, who as recently as February implicitly endorsed Donald Trump for president, pushed back in strong terms. "I can't stress how disappointed I am with President Trump for making this decision. I understand he’s thinking 'I’ve got to take care of my own people,' but we’re connected."
Ford added that the announcement has prompted a shift in his thinking when it comes to ensuring a domestically produced supply of critical items. "I’m not going to rely on President Trump, I’m not going to rely on any prime minister or president or any country ever again. Our manufacturing, we're gearing up and when those assemblies start, we aren’t going to stop them," he vowed.