Canada's Ontario province has deemed new-vehicle dealerships “essential workplaces” as the province grapples with gaining control of the novel coronavirus outbreak that is threatening to overwhelm the health-care system.
Premier Doug Ford on Monday afternoon ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the province in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
The order takes effect Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET and will last for 14 days. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open was released Monday night, early than the province promised.
“Yes, dealerships can stay open,” Ford’s press secretary, Ivana Yelich, confirmed in an email to Automotive News Canada.
The list officially includes “motor vehicle, auto-supply, auto and motor-vehicle-repair, including bicycle repair, aircraft repair, heavy equipment repair, watercraft/marine craft repairs, car and truck dealerships and related facilities.”
Several dealerships across the country — not just in Ontario — service and repair police vehicles, ambulances, firetrucks and delivery vehicles.
For that reason, the head of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association has already called for dealerships to be recognized by governments as essential businesses in the event of any mandatory lockdown or further retail closures to combat the pandemic.
Ontario on Monday reported 78 new cases of COVID-19, increasing the provincial total to 503. The case total includes six deaths and eight cases that have fully resolved.