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Ontario closes non-essential construction in attempt to curb COVID-19 spread

Province issues stay-at-home order and introduces enhanced enforcement measures to reduce mobility

January 14, 2021  By Jay Koblun

Non-essential construction will be required to stop as part of the latest provincial restrictions, but the Ontario government has again adjusted its list of essential construction operations. Image: David Kennedy

COVID-19 cases have doubled over the past two weeks and the Ontario government issued a stay-at-home order, requiring residents to stay in their homes except for essential trips to grocery stores, to access health care, or to commute to essential jobs.

The announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and several other officials on Jan., 12. The new rules came into effect on Thursday, Jan. 14 and are expected to last for 28 days.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments.

“By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives,” Ford.

“We must change our mobility patterns, too many people are having too many contacts. Increased contacts result from increased mobility,” said Elliott. “So to break this cycle you must stay home as much as possible and that starts with a stay at home order.”

Ford’s order follows a provincewide lockdown that started Dec. 26. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings for these purposes, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

These new public health measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 by reducing concerning levels of mobility as the province continues its vaccine rollout and ramps up to mass vaccination when the federal government is able to provide the necessary supply to do so.

Businesses permitted to open and sector-specific restrictions

• Permitted construction activities or projects and related services, including land surveying and demolition services.
• Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, provincial and municipal infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy, mining and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
• Construction projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
• Critical industrial construction activities required for; the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries; significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced; industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices, and other identified products directly related to combatting COVID-19.
• Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
• Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
• Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects, such as apartments and condominiums. The Ontario government also provided that businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines.

For the complete essential businesses list which contains several other specific exemptions, visit

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