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Premier Doug Ford to announce plans Thursday for Ontario to enter ‘Stage 1’ of reopening

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario announces Stage 1 reopening to begin Tuesday
WATCH ABOVE (May 14, 2020): Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario announces Stage 1 reopening to begin Tuesday.

Premier Doug Ford says he will share more “good news” on Thursday about people getting back to work and opening more workplaces amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ford said the announcement will be regarding plans to have the province enter the first stage of reopening.

“It will be Stage 1 of three stages,” Premier Doug Ford said at his daily press briefing at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.

Ford said the plans will include opening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services.

“On Thursday, we will share more good news about getting people back to work, more good news about opening workplaces,” Ford continued.

“Getting paycheques out the door. More good news about slowly getting back to normal.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario releases gradual reopening plan, though no dates provided

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According to framework previously released by the province, Stage 1 includes:

Stage 1

  • Businesses that can immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety, for instance through curbside pick-up or delivery.
  • Open some outdoor spaces like parks.
  • Allow for a greater number of individuals to attend some events, like funerals.
  • Hospitals begin to offer some non-urgent scheduled surgeries and other services.
  • Continued protections for vulnerable populations and practice of physical distancing.

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Ontario has released more than 80 safety guidelines for businesses to follow for reopening.

When it comes to enforcement, Ford said they will be relying on inspectors.

Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says province will review COVID-19 impact, won’t commit to public inquiry
Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says province will review COVID-19 impact, won’t commit to public inquiry

“We will have inspectors going into stores to make sure they inspect and they are following the proper processes to make sure not only their staff, but their customers are safe as well,” Ford continued. “We are going to continue with the inspections right across the board.”

“I have confidence in businesses. They are getting ready to open up … the vast majority of businesses are doing everything they can to protect their staff and their customers. It’s the right thing to do.”

READ MORE: 361 new coronavirus cases, 56 deaths in Ontario as total case number rises to 20,907

However, Ontario’s top doctor, who Ford has previously said he relies on for advice, said he does not think Ontario is officially ready yet for Stage 1 of the economic recovery.

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“I would have recommended we are already there, but we haven’t yet,” Dr. David Williams said Tuesday afternoon at his own daily press briefing that follows Ford’s.

“We’re on about day seven, eight of a downward trend, unfortunately not a very rapid, downward trend, but it’s tending that way,” Williams continued. “Our other metrics are looking good, but we haven’t had all those things come together yet where we say ‘now were ready to enter Stage 1.'”

“I think we’re getting closer in that but if it was already there, I would have already recommended it.”

On Wednesday, Ford clarified that Ontarians are not at Stage 1 yet, but the government is asking people to get ready and to give people, companies, stakeholders time to prep for the roll-out of that stage.

“These are strictly guidelines that are coming out, and just getting people ready for the next stage, which will be Stage 1,” Ford said.

“We always follow the advice from the chief medical officer and the health team before we move forward.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario not ready for stage 1 of recovery says province’s top doctor
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario not ready for stage 1 of recovery says province’s top doctor

On Tuesday, the province reported 361 new cases and 56 more deaths due to COVID-19. In total, there has been 20,907 cases and 1,725 deaths attributed to the virus in Ontario.

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Last week, Ontario eased more restrictions by allowing garden centres, nurseries, hardware and supply stores to reopen. Retail stores, with a street entrance, were allowed to provide curbside pickup to customers as of Monday.

Meanwhile, the province’s state of emergency has been extended until June 2.

“We’re building a solid foundation for the cautious reopening of our province. We’re charting a path to a strong recovery. With the progress we’ve made, I am confident we can move forward,” Ford said.

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