Ontario releases list of essential businesses permitted to be open during COVID-19 pandemic

The Ontario government has now released the list of all essential businesses which will be permitted to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier today, Premier Doug Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General to announce that the government will be closing non-essential workplaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Essential businesses include, but are not limited to grocery stores and pharmacies, telecommunications and IT infrastructure service providers, and businesses that support power generation, natural gas distribution and clean drinking water. Essential businesses are being asked to put into place any and all measures to safeguard the well-being of their employees on the front-lines.

Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

“While this was a difficult decision, we trust that Ontario’s business leaders will be able to promote safety while carrying out business and protecting jobs,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need. It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free.”

At-risk workplaces will be ordered to close by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24th and where possible, take the necessary measures so staff can work from home allowing operations to continue.

“Our government applauds the sacrifice and hard work of all Ontario workers and businesses, and will stand by them through this crisis,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “We call on workplaces that remain open to be vigilant and to enforce the highest possible standards of cleanliness and caution as we continue the fight together against COVID-19.”

The list of businesses considered essential are as follows:

Supply chains

1.    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;

Retail and Wholesaling

2.    Businesses engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of food, pet food and supplies, and household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses, including grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, markets and other similar retailers;

3.    Businesses that provide essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including feed, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding;

4.    Beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; cannabis stores and cannabis producers;

5.    Gas stations, diesel, propane and heating fuel providers including providers of motor vehicle, aircraft and water/marine craft fuels;

6.    Motor vehicle, auto-supply, auto and motor-vehicle-repair, including bicycle repair, aircraft repair, heavy equipment repair, watercraft/marine craft repairs, car and truck dealerships and related facilities;

7.    Hardware stores and stores that provide hardware products necessary to the essential operations of residences and businesses;

8.    Business providing pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services, including pharmacies and dispensaries;

9.    Businesses that supply office products and services, including providing computer products and related repair and maintenance services, for individuals working from home and for essential businesses;

10. Safety supply stores (for e.g. work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment);

Food Services and Accommodations

11. Restaurants and other food facilitiesthat prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or takeaway, together with food delivery services;

12. Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities, including student residences;

Institutional, Residential, Commercial and Industrial  Maintenance

13. Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services,plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, , security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services

Telecommunications and IT Infrastructure/Service Providers

14. Businesses engaged in providing or supporting Information Technology (IT) including online services, software products and related services, as well as the technical facilities such as data centres and other network facilities necessary for their operation and delivery; 

15.  Businesses providing telecommunications services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc) as well as support facilities such as call centres necessary for their operation and delivery;


16. Taxis and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for activities of daily living;

17. Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services to businesses and individuals including by air, water, road, and rail including providing logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, including truck stops and tow operators;

18. Businesses that provide materials and services for the operation, maintenance and safety of transportation systems (road, transit, rail, air and marine) including delivery of maintenance services such as clearing snow, response to collisions, and completing needed repairs to the transportation systems.

Manufacturing and Production

19. Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer);

20. Businesses, facilities and services that support and facilitate the two- way movement of essential goods within integrated North American and Global supply chains.

Agriculture and food production

21. Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;

22. Businesses that support the food supply chain including assembly yards, livestock auctions, food distribution hubs, feed mills, farm equipment suppliers, feed suppliers, food terminals and warehouses, animal slaughter plants and grain elevators;

23. Business that support the safety of food including animal and plant health and animal welfare;

24. Businesses that provide veterinary services, and that supply veterinary and animal control medications and related supplies and testing kits;

25. Businesses that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling;


26. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;

27. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance;

28. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;

29. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects

Financial activities

30. Capital markets (e.g., the TSX);

31. Banking & Activities related to Credit Intermediation; credit unions;

32. Insurance;

33. Businesses that provide pension services and employee benefits services;

34. Businesses that provide financial services including payment processing, the payroll division of any employer (as defined by the Employment Standards Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act), any entity whose operation is the administration of payroll, banks and credit unions;


35. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains in Northern Ontario including;

a.    Mining operations, production and processing;  

b.    Mineral exploration and development;

c.     Mining Supply and Services that ssupport supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety. 

36. Businesses that provide chemicals and gases to support the natural resource sector analytical labs and drinking water and wastewater sectors and other essential businesses;

37. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of forestry products (e.g. lumber, pulp, paper, wood fuel, etc.);

38. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of aggregates to support critical infrastructure repairs and emergency response requirements (e.g. sandbags, armour stone barriers, etc.);

39. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of petroleum and petroleum by-products;

Environmental Services

40. Businesses that support environmental management/monitoring and spill clean-up and response, including environmental consulting firms, professional engineers and geoscientists, septics haulers, well drillers, pesticides applicators and exterminators, management of industrial sewage/effluent (eg for mining operations), and environmental laboratories;

Utilities and Community Services

41. Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services:

a.    Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal;

b.    Potable drinking water;

c.     Electricity Generation, transmission, distribution and storage;

d.    Natural Gas distribution, transmission and storage,

e.    Road construction and maintenance;

f.      police, fire, emergency services including coroner services and pathology services ;

g.    corrections and courts services;

h.    other government services including licenses and permits;

42. Businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);

Communications Industries

43. Newspaper publishers;

44. Radio & Television Broadcasting;

45. Telecommunications providers;


46. Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities;

47. Businesses that provide products and services that support research activities;

Health Care and Seniors Care and Social Services

48. Organizations and providers that deliver home care services;

49. Retirement homes;

50. Long-term Care Facilities;

51. Independent health facilities;

52. Laboratories and specimen collection centres;

53. Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals; medical devices and medical supplies

54. Manufacturers, logistics and distributors of products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations (including but not limited to hospitals, labs, long-term care homes, other residential health care, physicians, nurse practitioners and midwives, and home care services);

55. Businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector or that provide health services, including mental health and addictions and counselling supports.

56. Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.

57. Businesses that provide personal support services (many seniors and persons with disabilities, who can afford to, hire individuals to assist with the activities of daily living).

58. Health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists optometrists and physio-therapists;

59. Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home and also provide residential services for individuals with physical disabilities (such as the Centre for Independent Living and March of Dimes);

60. Businesses and all other organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals, including but not limited to food banks, violence against women emergency shelters, homeless shelters, community housing, supportive housing, children’s aid societies, residential services for adults with developmental disabilities and for children, and custody and detention programs for young persons in conflict with the law;

Justice Sector

61. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system;

Other Businesses

62. Rental and leasing services, including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;

63. Businesses providing mailing, shipping, courier and delivery services, including post office boxes;

64. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers;

65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators;

66. Businesses providing funeral, mortician, cremation, transfer, and burial services, and any related goods and products (such as coffins and embalming fluid);

67.  Land registration services, and real estate agent services and moving services;

68.  Businesses providing security services including private security guards; monitoring or surveillance equipment and services;

69. Businesses providing staffing services, including temporary help;

70. Businesses that support the safe operations of residences and essential businesses;

71. Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including veterinarians, farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, research facilities and other service providers;

72. Child care services for essential workers, and home child care services of less than six children;

73. Businesses providing cheque cashing services;

Business Regulators and Inspectors

74. Organizations, including Administrative Authorities, that regulate and inspect businesses.


32 thoughts on “Ontario releases list of essential businesses permitted to be open during COVID-19 pandemic

    • March 24, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      The Ontario government should realize that Paramedics in Ontario are not an essential service. The government should get their act together and make them essential. If your house is burning you have insurance new house. You only have one life which I value more

  • March 23, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    What the hell!! Is there anything closing other than toy stores and clothing stores?

  • March 23, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    Wow… not much closing then! Why would beer and LCBO NEED TO BE ESSENTIAL????

    • March 25, 2020 at 12:33 am

      Because people are addicted and without their alcohol or cannabis they will suffer withdrawls which in the case of alcohol can definitely be lethal. The strain on an already overwhelmed healthcare system of dependence sickness would be societal suicide.

  • March 23, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    What about small businesses that work out if the home? Only one customer at a time?

  • March 24, 2020 at 12:33 am

    I didn’t see postal service…Is this considered an essential service?

  • March 24, 2020 at 12:38 am

    It’s already been this for weeks, how does this solve or reduce anything?! Basically nothing has changed. We’re going to be just like Italy in a matter of no time. Guaranteed by the end of the week, a much smaller list will be listed, more cases, more deaths. We’re just repeating the same mistakes and behaviour if we all don’t stay home like have been instructed to for weeks!!!

  • March 24, 2020 at 1:19 am

    I’m not understanding why alcohol is considered an essential service. The same with cannabis….you can but this on line.

  • March 24, 2020 at 1:20 am

    Which businesses are to close, as it seems that ALMOST EVERYTHING is to remain open.

  • March 24, 2020 at 3:00 am



    Yes I am Yelling This KING FORD.

  • March 24, 2020 at 4:57 am

    So what actually got closed in Ontario ???? Absolutely nothing , like if this covid19 is as serious as our government has said it is than why is everything still open like let’s be honest is this viruses just bullshit to spred fear in common people ??

  • March 24, 2020 at 5:56 am

    a. Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal;
    I work on the line sorting at a recycling plant That means what ever is put in the blue bin is separated by hand (and there is gross stuff in it as well )
    Is this to be closed for 2 weeks ?

  • March 24, 2020 at 6:29 am

    This is the most ridiculous piece of garbage I have seen to date!

    It would have been much shorter to list what was closed.

  • March 24, 2020 at 7:56 am

    why do the government use the schools assessing people they are just sitting there doing nothing we should utilize the schools everyone knows were there schools are. this could take some of load off hospitals thanks

  • March 24, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Fast food should be shut down! Drive thru services in courages social gathering and for people to leave the house to get their coffees
    Doug Ford be smart and shut down take out and drive thru services.

    • March 24, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      totally agree take out and delivery should be closed for god sake people dont know how to make a coffee or food for themselves anymore

  • March 24, 2020 at 8:15 am

    So in other words every and all businesses can remain open. its business as usual no changes here.

  • March 24, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Why is beer, wine and cannabis classified under essential businesses? Really!

  • March 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    The only reason I can see the beer and liquor stores being open, is for people who are alcoholics. We don’t need them tying up emergency rooms because they are going into withdrawal. Some restaurants, I can understand, only because truck drivers need someplace to eat if they are driving products to communities. Maybe only let truck stops stay open. I don’t think somebody getting their Timmys in the morning is essential.

  • March 24, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    why the hell is residential and commercial construction still open? NO ONES GONNA MOVE RIGHT NOW…like wtf did you even close ?

  • March 27, 2020 at 4:33 am

    Real Estate ( home buying & selling) will go on as usual? So a couple(s) and their kids can go ALL throughout your house you are selling ( while you are not there) and touch everything, and leave no germs?? Something is not right here. What is the point of self isolating and trying to be safe?

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