Canada had originally allowed all cannabis dispensaries to remain open during the COVID19 pandemic. Over this past weekend, stores in Ontario were forced to close when that province reversed course and ordered the stores to close.
The list of essential businesses was updated on Friday, April 3 and dispensaries got the bad news that they were no longer considered essential services. The stores were allowed to remain open on Saturday, but that was it for customers.
Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) told BNN Bloomberg that it has begun a set of temporary job cuts. The company said on Friday that it has laid off roughly 200 staff members at its retail outlets. The company did note that it hopes to reopen some of the company-owned stores in Canada.
Canopy Growth closed 23 company-owned dispensaries located in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The company has also closed its visitors’ center at its Ontario headquarters building.
High Tide Inc. (CSE:HITI) (OTCQB:HITIF) also closed stores on Saturday at midnight as a result of the Ontario order. The stores will close for a 14-day period and all retail staff at the Ontario Stores have been temporarily laid-off as the company awaits further updates from the Province.
“To mitigate the economic headwinds being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are optimizing staffing levels across the organization, working with landlords to abate or defer rent, minimizing operating expenses and delaying capital expenditures wherever possible,” said Raj Grover, President & Chief Executive Officer. “Despite the temporary forced closures in Ontario, our 27 other retail cannabis stores across Alberta and Saskatchewan remain open for the time being, while Grasscity.com has recently experienced a doubling of its average weekly sales as people around the world are increasingly shopping online from the safety of their homes for their smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products,” added Mr. Grover.