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Agriculture and food production businesses to remain open during Ontario’s closure of non-essential workplaces

Agriculture and food production businesses will not be impacted by a mandatory closure of non-essential businesses for 14-days ordered by the Ontario government to limit the spread of COVID-19.


March 23, 2020
By Potatoes in Canada

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Agriculture and food production businesses in Ontario will not be forced to close during a mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces ordered by the Ontario government to limit the spread of COVID-19.

On Mar. 23, 2020, the Ontario government ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces for 14 days starting Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. All businesses considered non-essential will have to close for 14 days, according to the government’s release, with the possibility of being closed for longer as the situation evolves.

Essential businesses, which are outlined in a list from the Ontario government, will be permitted to stay open. Businesses that fall under “agriculture and food production” are considered essential and therefore not impacted by the mandatory 14-day closure.

The following businesses under “agriculture and food production” will be permitted to stay open:

  • Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;
  • 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;
  • Business that support the safety of food including animal and plant health and animal welfare;
  • Businesses that provide veterinary services, and that supply veterinary and animal control medications and related supplies and testing kits;
  • Businesses that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling;
  • 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;

For Ontario potato growers that means that farms and other support businesses (including equipment repair shops, safety supply stores, hardware stores, etc.) will remain open during this two-week period.

Restaurants and other food facilities that prepares and serve food will also be allowed to remain open, but only for delivery or takeaway.

In Quebec, much like in Ontario, food production (for example agricultural operations, food processing, drink production, slaughterhouses, market-garden vegetable production) will also remain open.