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Ontario begins Phase 1 reopening to allow most retail, golf courses, all construction, more


TORONTO, ON., May 14, 2020 — Today Premier Doug Ford along with other Ontario officials delivered some good news to many businesses as residents, announcing the first phase of its reopening plan will begin Sunday, May 17 with golf courses and marinas open to the public. This will be followed by the reopening of retail establishments aside from malls as well as all construction projects with physical distancing measures required for all sectors.

Additional individual amateur and professional sports activities can also resume. These include non-team sports like cycling tracks, tennis, horse racing, driving range golfing, sport shooting clubs, rowing, boating clubs, gymnastics and figure skating.

Additionally, pet grooming and dog walking businesses have also been given the green light to resume starting May 19th. Stables and places that board animals can also reopen along with private parks and campgrounds.

House cleaning and nanny services are also allowed to resume on May 19th.

The media sector, including newspapers, book publishing, interactive digital media, film and television post-production and video game development will also be allowed to resume work as long as they follow the distancing guidelines.

Premier Ford said that businesses should only be reopening if they are ready. “If businesses are not ready to be open, do not open,” said Ford.

This includes also the public wearing masks or face coverings while out in any circumstance where physically distancing is not possible, said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health.

The government and health and safety associations have released more than 90 safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance and manufacturing. As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available to help protect the safety of workers and the general public.

Also allowed to reopen on May 19 will be all libraries but conducting curbside pickup only. Additionally, all vehicle dealerships and scientific research laboratories will be allowed to resume operations, provided they respect sector-specific rules about physical distancing.

The province is also allowing all scheduled medical diagnostic tests and scheduled medical procedures to resume, provided the facilities meet specific conditions regarding screening for COVID-19.

“During the last several weeks, the people of Ontario have been called on to make incredible sacrifices to help us stop the spread of COVID-19, including staying home from work, closing down businesses and going without a regular paycheque,” said Premier Ford. “However, we are reopening even more of our businesses beginning this long weekend. We are taking a cautious, balanced approach to our economic reopening, to protect the health and safety of everyone.”

After this first stage, Stage 2 of the reopening will involve the resumption of certain service industries, offices and opening more “community spaces.”

Doug Ford also said that for now the restaurant industry will have to wait as will those wondering about going to get their hair cut as hair salons and grooming studios have yet to receive the go-ahead from the province.

Meanwhile at the municipal level GTA mayors like Mississauga’s Bonnie Crombie and Brampton’s Patrick Brown have expressed concerns about a second wave.

“There may be calls in smaller communities and rural areas to reopen right away; I certainly don’t feel that in Brampton or in the GTA,” Brown said.

While Toronto mayor says “no one wants to see us back down in a shutdown again because we didn’t play by the rules.” But he did say the city is ready to reopen as long as public health officials says it is safe to do so.

Phase 1: What is allowed to reopen and when

Reopening as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

The government’s responsible and measured approach to reopening will allow business owners and service provider’s time to ensure workplaces are safe for staff, consumers and the general public. Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Reopening as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, 2020:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.
  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our mission to keep workers in this province safe,” said Minister McNaughton. “Ontario’s labour laws are clear: businesses must protect the health and safety of workers, including against workplace hazards like COVID-19. That’s why our ministry has released practical safety guidelines, doubled our capacity to help people by phone and hired more inspectors. We want to ensure everyone is safe at work.”

To ensure that these first actions to reopen the province are a success, the public should continue to adhere to public health measures, including practising physical distancing or wearing a face covering when physical distancing is difficult or not possible, as well as regular handwashing and staying home when ill. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when certain public health restrictions, including adjustments to social gatherings can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

“Because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians, we are making real and significant progress in our battle against COVID-19, with the number of new cases each day shrinking,” said Minister Elliott. “As we move forward with caution, public health experts will closely monitor each stage of reopening to carefully assess the evolution of the outbreak, so we can benefit from the best practices and lessons learned across Ontario.”

story by Terry Lankstead

with notes from Government of Ontario

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