Ontario halts all but “critical” construction projects

The Canadian province of Ontario has halted all but "critical" construction projects in its effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, reversing an earlier exemption of the industry.

Announcing the measure, Ontario Premier Doug Ford (pictured), called it "a matter of life and death".

The closure took effect Sunday, 5 April, and will last for 14 days.

Projects still allowed to continue include industrial projects, such as refineries and petrochemical plants, and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges.

New starts in residential projects will stop, but residential projects that are "near completion" can continue. (See below.)

In late March, construction labour organisations in the province objected to Ford’s decision to exempt construction from business shutdowns.

Residential construction projects can continue where:

  • a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes;
  • an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings; or
  • the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before 4 April 2020.

"We are facing a critical moment in the fight against Covid-19 and we must do everything in our power to keep everyone safe and healthy and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed," said Ford.

"Everyone must do their part to stop the spread and flatten the curve. If you are not an essential business, you need to close your doors, work from home if possible and play a role to help contain this outbreak. This is a matter of life and death."

Image: Doug Ford in 2014, before his election as premier of Ontario (Bruce Reeve/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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