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Closure of non-essential services impacting some franchisees

Franchisors and franchisees got a clearer picture when Ontario listed all essential services permitted to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the situation may change again soon.

On March 23, Premier Doug Ford announced the province was ordering all non-essential businesses to shut down by midnight the next day.

Ford’s original order was put in place for two weeks, and extended for another two on March 30.

The original list of businesses permitted to remain open including 74 types of businesses in 19 categories.

However, on April 1, Ford confirmed his government will be looking to cut down the list as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in the province.

Those businesses deemed to be essential in the original list include:

  • Retail businesses such as supermarkets, convenience stores, grocery stores, pet food and supply chains, beer, wine, liquor, and cannabis producers, gas stations, pharmacies, business and safety supply stores, motor vehicle repair, auto supply, and car/truck dealerships;
  • Restaurants which offer take-out and delivery, as well as hotels and motels;
  • Telecommunication services;
  • Seniors care, independent health facilities, dental, optometrist, and physiotherapy offices; and
  • Other services such as rental businesses, shipping, courier, and delivery, accountant, insurance, and real estate services, security companies, and child care services for essential workers.

Further, non-essential services that must close include gyms, bars, movie theatres, concert halls, and museums. Also, restaurants which only offer dine-in must close.

Other businesses ordered to shutter include health and beauty services such as hair and nail salons, and barbershops.

The province’s order to shut down businesses will remain in place for two weeks, according to the Ford government.

Karl Littler, senior vice-president of public affairs with the Retail Council of Canada, said their organization was heavily involved in discussions with the government on determining which businesses were essential.

Littler said Premier Ford understood there needed to be a “broad range” of services left open, and he commended the government for ensuring online business and e-commerce will continue.

In a media statement, the Canadian Franchise Association noted the closing of certain workplaces is important to slow down the virus.

“While this will cause a tremendous financial burden on franchised business, the safety of the public, our employees and our customers is the most important aspect of this entire situation,” the statement reads. “We do appreciate the short-term supports that governments have already provided to help franchisors and franchisees through this unprecedented crisis. The CFA is continuing to work with governments and other stakeholders across the country to put in place additional supports to help franchised businesses get through the current situation and grow in the near future.”

A few days before the province ordered the shut downs, McDonald’s Canada announced it would be closing take-out service and dining areas in its stores. However, there may be some exceptions.

“Working closely with our franchisees, select restaurants may continue take-out service in communities where there are specific needs, including locations near hospitals and healthcare facilities,” a statement from the company reads.

Tim Horton’s has also shut down its dining areas, but continues to offer take-out, drive-thru, and delivery options. The company also committed $40 million to assist sick and ill workers, to be split evenly between restaurant owners and the corporate office.

Any team member who has contracted COVID-19 or must be quarantined at the request of government, medial official, or restaurant owners will be compensated for scheduled hours up to 14 days.

Meanwhile, Domino’s Canada announced it was hiring for a multitude of positions.

“While many local, provincial, and federal rules are closing dine-in restaurants, the opportunity to keep feeding our neighbours means that a small sense of normalcy is still available to everyone. Our stores want to make sure they’re not only feeding people, but also providing opportunity to those looking for work at this time,” said Michael Curran, Domino’s Pizza of Canada CEO in a media statement.

Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart are also looking to hire a number of new team members to keep  up with increased demand as residents exercise social isolation and distancing.

The company has set up a website, https://www.loblawjobs.ca/, with a listing of opportunities.

Moving franchise Two Men and A Truck announced via its website as its industry has been deemed essential; it will continue operations “as long as it is possible to do so.”

“Due to the recent rise in Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across the country, we want to assure you we are putting the safety of our customers and team members first. We’re following all best practices and guidelines for sanitation, cleanliness, and precaution as we continue to help our customers move forward,” a statement on the company’s website reads.

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