Can I Open My Business During COVID 19?

Caution:  The following memorandum outlines some of the applicable rules and regulations during the COVID 19 Pandemic.  It is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  The rules regarding the COVID 19 Pandemic can change at any time and you should consult the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for up to date information.

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the Provincial Government has the power to make temporary Orders.  These Orders are not criminal law, but they are enforced by police officers, By-Law Officers and Special Constables.  Violations of the Orders can result in fines or even jail. Some people may have already received a ticket for violating an Order. The current Orders are in force until May 29, 2020 and may be extended further beyond that date.

As the COVID-19 crisis wears on, more people may be charged with violating Orders.  In here you will find the answers to the following:

  1. Even if an establishment is closed, what activities can you still do on the premises?
  2. What Offences are there are for violating Orders?
  3. Police enforcement powers?

Currently all Non-Essential Business are closed. 

A partial list of “Essential-Businesses” is attached to this memo.  NB:  This is not a complete list which can be found at Schedule 2 of Regulation 82/20

Even if your business is closed, the following services can take place on the closed premise. 

NB: You should be careful to comply with all other applicable regulations (i.e. maximum number of occupants and distance requirements when performing work in a closed premise)

  • Preparing the place of business to be reopened.
  • performing work at the place of business in order to comply with any applicable law;
  • allowing for inspections, maintenance and repairs to be carried out at the place of business;
  • allowing for security services to be provided at the place of business; and
  • attending at the place of business temporarily,to deal with other critical matters relating to the closure of the place of business, if the critical matters cannot be attended to remotely; orto access materials, goods or supplies that may be necessary for the business to be operated remotely.
  • The exceptions do not apply to businesses closed by ORDER Reg 51/20.

Even if your business is closed, you can still operate if you comply with the following:

Despite subsection (1), a person responsible for a place of business that is not listed in Schedule 2 may cause the place of business to be opened for the purpose of engaging in retail sales to the public if,

(a) the sales are exclusively made using an alternative method of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery;

(b) the place of business has a public entrance that opens onto a street or exterior sidewalk; and

(c) no member of the public is permitted to access the place of business, except in exceptional circumstances.

Nothing in this Order precludes a business that is not listed in Schedule 2 from operating remotely, without attending at the place of business, for the purpose of,

(a) providing goods by mail or other forms of delivery or making goods available for pick-up; and

(b) providing services online, by telephone or other remote means.

What can the police do to me if they think I am violating an order?


Police officers, By Law Officers and Special Constables can issue Offence Notices commonly known as “tickets” for violating Orders.  The Offences are outlined in section 7.0.11 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The types of Offences

  1. It is an offence to violate an Order;
  2. It would be an offence to interfere or obstruct anyone in the performance of their duties conferred by Order (e.g. interfering with a by-law officer trying to enforce an Order).
  3. Each day or part of a day during which the offence takes place can be a separate charge.

Penalties for Offences

  1. In cases of individuals, there is a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or a term of imprisonment for a maximum of 1 year.
  2. In the case of a director of a corporation, there is a maximum fine of $500,000 and/or a term of imprisonment for a maximum of 1 year.
  3. In the case of a corporation, there is a maximum fine of $10,000,000.

If I am stopped by a Police Officer, By Law Enforcement Officer or Special Constable, do I have to identify myself?

“provincial offences officer” means,

(a) a police officer,

(b) a constable appointed pursuant to any Act,

(c) a municipal law enforcement officer referred to in subsection 101 (4) of the Municipal Act, 2001 or in subsection 79 (1) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, while in the discharge of his or her duties,

(d) a by-law enforcement officer of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality, while in the discharge of his or her duties,

(e) an officer, employee or agent of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality whose responsibilities include the enforcement of a by-law, an Act or a regulation under an Act, while in the discharge of his or her duties

Powers under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA)

Police Officers have always had broad powers under the HTA to stop vehicles and demand:

  • Drivers produce their drivers license, registration and insurance.
  • Require the driver to pull the vehicle over to allow for the vehicle fitness to be determined.
  • Ensure driver sobriety.

ORDER 114/20 made under the EMACPA gives Police Officers, By Law Enforcement Officers or Special Constables additional powers to require people to identify themselves:

Requirement to identify

(1) A police officer or any other provincial offences officer within the meaning of subsection 1 (1) of the Provincial Offences Act[1] who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an individual has committed an offence under section 7.0.11 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act may require the individual to provide the officer with the individual’s correct name, date of birth and address.

(2) Every individual who is required under subsection (1) to provide a provincial offences officer with their correct name, date of birth and address shall promptly comply.

When the HTA power to stop is combined with ORDER 114/20 this authorizes the police to require the passenger(s) in the vehicle to identify themselves if they feel people are violating an Order or Orders.

The punishment for failing to correctly identify yourself is a $750 fine and a $1,000 fine for obstructing anyone involved in issuing a ticket.

This is a partial list of the services which are currently designated as essential services and are allowed to operate. 

Please note that these businesses may have additional obligations under Schedule 3 of Regulation 82/20.  Please consult the regulation to ensure compliance:

Supply chains

1. Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.


2. Businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses including:

i. Supermarkets and grocery stores.

ii. Convenience stores.

iii. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries.

iv. Restaurants (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only).

v. Beer and wine and liquor stores.

Consumer products

2.1 Businesses that sell motor vehicles that are in compliance with section 2.1 of Schedule 3.

2.2 Garden centres and plant nurseries, including greenhouses that engage in retail sales to the public.

2.3 Hardware stores.

2.4 Safety supply stores.


3. Pharmacies.

4. Gas stations and other fuel suppliers.

4.1 Automated and self-service car washes.

5. Laundromats and drycleaners.

5.1 Lawn care services and landscaping services.

6. Security services for residences, businesses and other properties.

7. Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services.

8. Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services.

9. Funeral and related services.

10. Staffing services including providing temporary help.

11. Veterinary services (urgent care only) and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums and research facilities.

12. Home child care services of up to six children as permitted under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, and child care centres for essential workers authorized to operate in accordance with Ontario Regulation 51/20 (Order Under Subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act – Closure of Establishments) made under the Act.

13. Hotels, motels, other shared rental accommodation including student residences, except for any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses.

13.1 Seasonal campgrounds that are in compliance with section 3.1 of Schedule 3.

13.2 Golf courses and outdoor golf driving ranges that are in compliance with section 2.2 of Schedule 3.

14. Cheque cashing services.


20. Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.

Transportation services

21. Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including,

i. transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and

ii. support services for transportation services, including,

A. logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators,

B. services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs, and

C. marinas, boating clubs and other organizations that maintain docking facilities for members or patrons and that are in compliance with section 5 of Schedule 3.

22. Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online.


27. 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.

28. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.

28.1 Construction projects and services that support the operations of, and provide new capacity in, schools, colleges, universities, municipal infrastructure and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

29. Critical industrial construction activities required for,

i. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,

ii. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,

iii. industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the Covid-19 pandemic.

29.1 Construction projects that are due to be completed before October 4, 2020 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.

29.2 Construction projects that were commenced before April 4, 2020, and that would,

i. provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services, or

ii. provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services.

30. Residential construction projects where,

i. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes,

ii. the project is a condominium, mixed use or other residential building, or

iii. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.

30.1 Construction to prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure. 31. Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.