Premier Doug Ford is ordering the manadatory closure of all "non-essential workplaces" effective Tuesday, March 24, 11:59 p.m.
"The next 36 hours will give non-essential businesses the chance to adapt and prepare," he said.
The province will release a list of businesses tomorrow that are permitted to stay open.
The order will last for 14 days.
He said the province is prepared to extend the order if necessary.
"It means food will remain on the shelves. It means Ontarians will still have access to their medications and essential products. It means the power will still stay on and telecommunications will continue to run, but it also means that every Ontarian must do their part," he said. "If you can, please stay home. Only leave if necessary."
"To all the snow birds and Canadians returning home from abroad, you must self-isolate. I repeat, you must self-isolate. The health of your friends, your children and your grandparents depends on this. You and every Ontarian must do their part," said Ford.
Ford said measures must be taken to flatten the curve and to get ahead of the virus to beat it.
"We have seen global economies grind to a halt. We have seen healthcare systems overwhelmed and we have seen heartache and loss and we have seen countries lose this battle. I'll tell you, we in Ontario will not follow in those footsteps. We will not lose this battle. We will get ahead of this for the health and safety of all Ontarians, for the future of our children, for those entering their silver years and getting ready to enjoy retirement. We must get ahead of this and we will," said Ford.
Further information about measures to help business will be announced on Wednesday, said Ford.
Ford declined to offer clarification as to what businesses would be affected by the order and which ones wouldn't, but he did call out construction companies, which he said in some cases have been shown to be putting their workers in jeopardy with unsanitary conditions on their large sites.
"Large construction sites downtown. Pictures I've seen — outhouses overflowing, not having proper sanitary items. Get your act together. Take care of your frontline construction workers. To have an outhouse overflowing? It's unacceptable and if they don't do it, we will do it," said Ford.
Ford said his message to construction workers is: "If you don't feel safe. If you don't feel you have the proper equipment or the company is not keeping you safe, leave the site. Leave the site and don't come back."
The province's prohibition on public gatherings remains capped at 50 people based, Ford said, on public health recommendations, but he did urge people to "keep it limited," when going for walks or hanging out outdoors.
"Go out by yourself, go out with one other person, family, spouse, family member," said Ford.
An agitated Ford repeated his message to snow birds and other people returning from Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. that they they MUST self-isolate.
He said stopping at a grocery store is "unacceptable."
"If you're coming from the airport, do not. I repeat, do not stop at a store. Go directly home and self-isolate for 14 days," said Ford.
"No store. No running to the gas station. You're self-isolating. Simple as that," said the premier.
The following is the full text of the province's announcement of non-essential workplace closures:
TORONTO — To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government will order the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open will be released tomorrow.
"This was a tough decision, but the right decision, as this is no time for half measures," said Premier Doug Ford. "But I have said from day one we will, and we must, take all steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of every Ontarian must come first. The health of you, your children, your grandparents and friends depends on all of us doing our part."
Businesses that can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt. Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.
A 1-800 number and website will be made available on Wednesday for any inquiries.
"Based on the advice of Dr. Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at our Command Table, Ontario is taking further action to contain the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "These enhanced measures are necessary to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. Nothing is more important."
"Our top priority must be to protect the health of the people of Ontario," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. "Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will allow the people and the businesses of Ontario to move forward from this unprecedented situation."
"Our government is listening to our public health officials to ensure we take the right actions to support the health and safety of Ontario job creators and workers," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "We are working directly with businesses and workers across all sectors to support them in any way possible through this crisis. We urge the business community to share their innovative ideas and capabilities to fight COVID-19 through our new portal Ontario Together at www.ontario.ca/OntarioTogether."
Premier Doug Ford will make an announcement this afternoon at 1 p.m.. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He will be joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.
Village Media will carry the livestream of the announcement once it begins. Refresh to update the page.