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Ontario declares State of Emergency

C-stores and gas stations to remain open as essential services

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In a bid to combat rising COVID-19 numbers, Ontario issuing a stay-at-home order and issuing enhanced enforcement measures to reduce mobility. For c-stores, which are considered an essential service, here’s what you need to know:

  • As part of the efforts, effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., everyone is to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m.
  • The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. In addition, wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers (Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors) to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors, as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution.

In addition, enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise that is in contravention of an order.

“Extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians as we deal with this growing crisis,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Our government is providing police and bylaw officers with the tools, and the authority, they need to enforce these critical restrictions and protect public health.”

READ: Quebec’s curfew impacts c-stores


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Newfoundland allows specialty vape shops to remain open during COVID-19 crisis

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The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is commending the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing specialty vape shops to continue to operate under strict social distancing protocols during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Allowing vape shops to operate using only contactless curbside pickup protocols will prevent thousands of Newfoundlanders from being forced back to combustible tobacco, a product known to kill one in two users,” the association said in a statement.

“We applaud the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for having found an appropriate means to care for the physical and mental health needs of vapers while ensuring the safety and protection of all individuals in their province.  The vapers in this province will continue to have access to the low nicotine harm reduction products which are only available in adult access product vape shops, while strict social distancing protocols implemented will serve to protect the public and staff,” said Darryl Tempest, executive director of The Canadian Vaping Association. “The CVA has repeatedly voiced our concern over limiting access to harm reduction products. The decision to ensure vape shops continue to operate under the condition that they use curbside pickup will prevent thousands of vapers from returning to smoking, thus saving the lives of many Newfoundlanders.”

The CVA is calling on other provinces to amend their essential services list to include vape shops.

However, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is calling out some vape shops on social media, highlighting the number of vape shop operators ignoring government directives to close: “These are the stores that Ontario Health Ministry believe can handle adult products better than c-stores. Convenience stores are your trusted neighbourhood business.”

In another Tweet: “Vape shops in Ontario are ‘not’ an essential service retailer but vape supplies are available in convenience stores during these unknown times.”


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Essential services: Convenience and gas are open for business across Canada

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 12.50.44 PMC-stores and gas stations across the country remain open under ever-changing guidelines, according to the Convenience Industry Council of Canada’s Coast to Coast Update.

At the moment, c-stores and gas stations are considered essential services in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Northwest Territories.

Other provinces are taking a slightly different approach, but the outcome is the same – convenience and gas are open for business.

For instance, Newfoundland and Labrador is permitting retail businesses that provide food to operate, as well as gas stations. Saskatchewan has listed convenience stores and gas stations as allowable.

Yukon and Nunavut have not yet created lists of essential and non-essential services and businesses, however “both territories have stated types of businesses to close but not yet which may remain open, including convenience stores and gas stations.”

CICC is regularly updating the status of convenience and gas operators here.