The province is not messing around as the number of cases climbs. Premier Doug Ford took measures on Monday, March 23 to tighten the province's state of emergency and has ordered the shutdown of all "non-essential" services as the spread of COVID-19 progresses in Ontario. Ford's order comes in to effect 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24.
Ford, along with other key Ontario staff, addressed reporters in a briefing on Monday afternoon.
According to the Toronto Star, the only stores that would remain open are supermarkets, pharmacies, LCBO locations, and takeout restaurants.
A detailed list of businesses that will be allowed to remain open — for the time being, at least — will come out on March 24.
Ford said in the conference, "This was a very tough decision but the right decision. This is not the time for half-measures. This decision was not made lightly.
"The gravity of this order does not escape me. But as I said from day one, we will and must take all the steps to slow the spread of COVID-19."
According to the Star, Ford made this decision after a chat with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, as well as in consultation with Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.
"We must get ahead of this virus to beat this virus," said Ford during his announcement on Monday afternoon.
This new move comes into effect less than a week after Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario.
On Friday, the City of Toronto's medical chief, Dr. Eileen de Villa, had encouraged the 6ix's non-essential stores, like clothing shops as well as hair and nail salons to close up as well last week.
This move by the Premier will make that mandatory.
Meanwhile, some stores that are apparently defined as "essential," like the LCBO and The Beer Store, have made efforts to help promote social distancing by cutting their hours.
Ford and Ontario will clarify exactly what "non-essential" entails on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, the province had announced the total number of confirmed cases has now exceeded 500. It has almost doubled in the four days since Thursday, March 19.
In the meantime, the Premier doubled down on the call to maintain social distancing.
"Every Ontarian must do their part. If you can, please stay home, only leave if necessary," Ford said.