Coronavirus: What you can and cannot do in Ontario amid Stage 1 of reopening

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Two months ago, dine-in restaurants were ordered to stop welcoming guests. COVID-19 has ravaged thousands of businesses from coast to coast. – May 17, 2020

Last Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced that a swath of businesses would soon be allowed to reopen their doors for the first time since he declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 17.

Ford said the province will enter Stage 1 of his three-stage approach to reopening the province on Tuesday.

“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,” Ford said Thursday. “We are taking a cautious, balanced approach to our economic reopening, to protect the health and safety of everyone.”

With the Victoria Day weekend being the unofficial start to summer, a handful of recreational businesses were permitted to open their doors on Saturday but the majority will resume business on Tuesday.

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What follows is a list of what you can and can’t do as the first of three stages of the Ford government’s plan gets underway.

What can I do in Ontario on May 19?

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  • Visit retail stores located outside of indoor shopping malls that have a separate street-front entrance. These stores will open with restrictions to enable physical distancing.
  • Stop into a new or used car dealership without an appointment
  • Play a round of golf or hit a few balls at a driving range although all amenities connected to these businesses remain closed.
  • Use marina or yacht club services although certain amenities remain unavailable
  • Play less-aggressive racquet sports like tennis, badminton, pickleball and ping pong.
  • Race horses or play in individual sports such as track and field, gymnastics and figure skating.
  • Head to a cycling track, rod and gun club or horse riding facility.
  • Take animals to the groomer for a haircut, to the vet for a checkup or hire a dog walker or pet sitter.
  • Hire maids, housekeepers, cooks and cleaners.
  • You may bring in people to conduct non-emergency maintenance on your home.
  • Non-diagnostic medical imaging is once again available.
  • Seek in-person counselling for psychotherapy and other mental health and support services.
  • Visit a library for pick-up or delivery.
  • Hire a babysitter or use a home daycare to watch the kids.
  • Visit a farmer’s market.
  • Visit an outdoor flea market. (A government spokesperson told Global News that they can open but will need to be able to ensure similar guidelines as other businesses to allow for proper physical distancing.)

What can’t I do in Ontario on May 19?

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  • Wrestle or box, perform martial arts or play racquetball or squash.
  • Go for a swim in a public pool.
  • Visit a barbershop or hair salon to get your hair done.
  • Pop into a restaurant, cafe or bar for sitdown service.
  • Send the kids to schools or daycare centres. The government says daycare centres may open in the next phase of openings.
  • Visit places of worship.
  • Attend gatherings of more than five people.
  • Attend a festival, sporting event or concert.
  • Attend a movie theatre, theatre, pool, recreation centre, arena, spa, gym or nightclub.

For more information on the province’s relaunch strategy, you can visit the government of Ontario’s website.

While many businesses will return to active duty on Tuesday, the province is still advising residents to continue working from home if possible.

The provincial government did not provide any further specifics on when we would enter into the next phase or recovery.

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“It will take as long as it takes to get the numbers down,” Ford said.

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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.”

Even then, we may not see concerts and major sporting events take place.

*With files from Global News’ Jess Patton and Melissa Gilligan

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