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Ontario Places 2-Week Hold On Construction

The Ontario government has introduced new coronavirus restrictions, including a two-week halt on nonessential construction in the province. 

The directive, which took hold Sunday, was part of a sweeping reclassification to what the province had previously deemed essential services.

Ontario has placed a two-week hold on nonessential construction as part of sweeping new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

"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," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a news release. "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."

The ever-increasing restrictions are aimed at slowing a virus that has resulted in 119 deaths in Ontario. As of Sunday, Toronto has 1,026 confirmed cases, and 27 deaths.

The province also released a new pandemic model last week. It concluded 3,000 to 15,000 deaths could occur even with existing restrictions.

"The models show that the potential to spread COVID-19 is massive and deadly if we don't act swiftly to stay home and practise physical distancing," Ford said.

The province now says only critical construction projects can continue, including industrial projects such as refineries and petrochemical plants and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges.

Exceptions include “residential construction projects where a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes, or an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings."

Projects involving renovations to residential properties started before the reclassification are also permitted.

Besides a two-week hold on construction, the province has closed all cannabis stores for two weeks.

The construction moratorium is sure to have a big economic effect on Toronto, where construction cranes are a major part of the skyline.

Construction investment volumes topped $17.6B last year, making it "the nation's most active investment market in 2019," according to a recent CBRE report.

Toronto also launched a blitz targeting city parks over the weekend in an effort to enforce its new physical distancing laws.

Those failing to stay two metres from each others in parks and public spaces could face a $1K fine.

From March 24 to April 5, Municipal Licensing & Standards had responded to 407 complaints and issued 34 notices for failure to comply with the Province’s orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

During the same time, Toronto Police have issued tickets to 21 people for noncompliance, summonses to two businesses and nine notices for failure to comply with provincial orders.

For its part, Toronto Public Health has closed 162 bars that failed to comply with the dine-in prohibition, and it has also shuttered 105 personal service operations (nail salons, hairdressers, etc.) that failed to observe the new rules.  

"We recognize the toll this outbreak is taking on business owners and workers," Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli said. "Ontario businesses are top of mind during this unprecedented time. We know that the only way to ensure the health of our businesses and our economy is to ensure the health of all Ontarians."