Premier Doug Ford has announced more details on the province’s first stage of its “Phase 2: Restart” plan — beginning Tuesday — amid the coronavirus pandemic, as Ontario reported its lowest increase in new cases since March.
Ford made announcement alongside health minister Christine Elliott, minister of finance Rod Phillips, minister of economic development, job creation and trade Vic Fedeli and minister of labour, training and skills development Monte McNaughton at Queen’s Park Tuesday afternoon.
Ford said the province is currently entering Stage 1 of three in Phase 2 of a three-phase approach to reopening the province. Stage 1 could last anywhere from two to four weeks.
“Businesses should open only if they’re ready,” said Ford.
“The truth is we can’t fully predict where things will go, so we need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases. We cannot let our guard down now. We must watch the trends like a hawk.”
Ontario officials are still advising working from home as much as possible.
Everything listed can open and/or restart effective Tuesday, however, private parks, campgrounds, marinas, golf courses and businesses that board animals may allow boarders to visit, care for, or ride their animals beginning Saturday.
According to an outline provided by the provincial government Thursday, Stage 1 will “focus on workplaces that are well-positioned to follow public health advice to maintain physical distancing, implement workplace safety guidance and limit gatherings.”
The framework provided by the government Thursday outlines what Stage 1 means for industry services and retail, outdoor, recreational and seasonal activities and care, community and household services.
Noticeably absent from the list are hair salons and barbershops and when asked, Ford said the province has to “hold off” opening those businesses at this time.
“Look at my hair, I look like a sheep dog right now,” he said.
Ford said information about child care and schools will be made available next week.
Industry services and retail
- Lifting essential workplace limits on construction and resuming all construction.
- Opening retail located outside of shopping malls with a separate street-front entrance, with restrictions to enable physical distancing which can include:
- limiting the number of customers in a store at any one time or by square metre
- booking appointments beforehand or on the spot
- continuing to encourage curbside pickup or deliveries
Opening motor vehicle dealerships, including:
- new and used cars and trucks
- motorcycles, boats and other motor and recreational vehicles, such as ATVs
Allowing media operations, specifically:
- music recording, including production, distribution, publishing and studios
- interactive digital media, including programming and development
- film and television post-production and animation studios
- publishing, including newspapers, video games and books
Opening non-essential professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in physical, engineering and life sciences, such as biotechnology, agriculture and industrial research and development labs
Allowing emissions inspection facilities to conduct heavy vehicle emissions testing.
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Outdoor, Recreational and Seasonal Activities
Seasonal businesses and services such as golf driving ranges, recreational services at marinas, rod and gun clubs and cycling tacks are allowed to open and begin.
Other activities also allowed are:
- water sports on lakes and outdoor bodies of water (no swimming pool sports), such as rowing and sailing
- low-contact racquet sports like tennis, badminton, pickleball and ping pong
- athletics, such as track and field, gymnastics and figure skating
- animal-related sports, such as horse racing
Care, Community and Household Services
Gradually restarting health care services, which will need to ensure they maintain capacity to respond to COVID-19, including:
- hospitals, independent health facilities, clinics and private practices providing scheduled surgeries and procedures
- supporting services for surgeries and procedures, such as diagnostics and post-acute rehab
- in-person counselling, including psychology and addictions counselling
- resuming in-person services, in addition to virtual services, delivered by health professionals such as Children’s Treatment Centres
Allowing services for animals and pets to resume, specifically:
- pet care, including pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training
- regular veterinary appointments
- Opening libraries for pickup or deliveries.
Allowing indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines to resume, including:
- domestic services, such as housekeepers and cooks
- lifting essential workplace limits on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting, and pool maintenance
The advancement to each stage and subsequent phases will be decided upon by public health experts and no specific dates were given beyond the May 19 date.
“It will take as long as it takes to get the numbers down,” Ford said.
If Stage 1 is successful, the province will move to Stage 2, which means the possibility of the opening of more workplaces, community and outdoor spaces, allowing for larger group gatherings and “continuing to get back to full services with restrictions, such as more care services, courthouse and tribunal services.”
If Stage 2 is successful, Ontario will then move to the final stage — Stage 3. This stage could include the opening of all workplaces, “further relaxing the restrictions on recreational spaces and public gatherings and allowing full services to resume, such as fully opening libraries to the public and jury proceedings.”
The government said, however, that large public events such as concerts and sports will continue to be “restricted for the foreseeable future.”
Ontario reported 258 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total numbers of cases to 21,494, and 33 more deaths, bringing the total number to 1,798.