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Ontario and Quebec to close all non-essential businesses

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's most populous province said Monday that non-essential businesses must close for at least 14 days starting at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday in efforts to stem the new coronavirus pandemic.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will release the list of businesses that will be allowed to stay open, but food will remain on the grocery store shelves and people will still have access to medication.

Ford also acknowledged students will not going back to school on April 6, the date initially set for a return to classes. The French-speaking province of Quebec also ordered all non-essential businesses to close until April 13.

"Effectively, Quebec will be on pause for the next three weeks," Quebec Premier Francois Legault said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier Monday that images of people out enjoying the sunshine in large groups was “extremely concerning," and said, “Enough is enough. Go home and stay home."

Trudeau said staying at home is a duty and said the government will enforce it if necessary. He said those who are not doing their part are putting at risk everyone else, including the eventual recovery of the economy and the well-being of millions of Canadians.

Trudeau also endorsed the decision by the Canadian Olympic Committee to not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics unless they're postponed for a year. He also said Canada had won approval to send more planes to bring Canadians home from Peru, Morocco, Spain, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Trudeau made the comments outside his residence while in self isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus. The prime minister so far resisted the idea of putting into place the federal equivalent, the Emergencies Act, saying Monday that since it requires taking power out of the hands of the provinces, there needs to be a discussion with them first.

Canada had at least 2,035 confirmed cases and more than 20 deaths as of Monday. More than a million Canadians and permanent residents returned to Canada between March 14 and March 20, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney implored those returning to self isolate for 14 days and said he's heard of too many stories about people who think the 14-day self-isolation rule upon arrival is some sort of vague hint or suggestion.

"This does not mean going to the grocery store," Kenney said. “It means one thing and one thing only. When you come into the country you must you must go directly and immediately to your home without stopping. And if you need supplies or groceries you got to call family, friends or neighbors or delivery services. We will not be tolerate people coming in from overseas and then mixing with the general population. They would be threatening public health. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.”

Kenney said he's prepared to introduce penalties if they violate that direction from public health.

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