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Ontario to halt all non-critical industrial construction to fight coronavirus spread

Last Updated Apr 3, 2020 at 9:13 pm EDT

Construction cranes fill the sky in Toronto. (FILE/Rene Johnston/Getty Images)

The Ontario government is shutting down most construction work in the province for the next two weeks.

Premier Doug Ford said effective Saturday, April 4 at 11:59 p.m., all industrial construction, except critical projects, will be halted to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Only necessary infrastructure projects like hospitals and transportation will continue while no new residential construction will start.

“Those few sites that will remain open will be placed under the highest level of scrutiny possible,” Ford said on Friday as he announced more stringent measures in a bid to avert what new projections suggest could be a dire outcome.

Among construction projects now deemed essential services:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Residential construction projects where,
      i. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
      ii. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
      iii. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
  • Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

Industry groups that originally lauded the decision to keep construction sites active through the pandemic voiced support for Ford’s new closures.

“We all want safe jobsites,” said Joe Vaccaro, chief executive officer of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. “Let’s keep each other safe. We are all in this together.”

Projections from a group of high-ranking doctors revealed that a failure to adopt stricter public health measures could lead to an estimated 1,600 fatalities by the end of April and as many as 15,000 over the full course of the outbreak.