TORONTO – Two months after the COVID-19 pandemic began and the province’s economy came to a grinding halt, Premier Doug Ford announced on Thursday that Ontario is entering the first stage of reopening the economy.
Ford announced a list of retailers, businesses, and health and community service providers that will be allowed to open or expand their current offerings on Tuesday (May 19).
These openings are contingent on the province’s COVID-19 numbers continuing to improve.
Ford also announced on Thursday that some businesses will be able to open on Saturday (May 16) in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
Those allowed to open on May 16 include:
- golf courses, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out;
- marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches, 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; and
- businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.
Those allowed to open or resume services on May 19 include:
- retail services not in shopping malls that have separate street-front entrances (with measures to enable physical distancing, such as limiting customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments);
- seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization (including 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; and
- certain health and medical services, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.
Ford thanked residents of Ontario for their efforts in flattening the curve, but cautioned businesses planning to reopen.
“I want to be clear: only if they are ready,” he said.
“All of this is dependent on the numbers, so the truth is we need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases.”
Added Ford, “If we take our time and get it right then we’ll be able to open more businesses get more people back to work.
“We have a long way to go. We have a long road to recovery, so let’s take some time today and be grateful how far we all have come.”
Businesses that reopen to customers next week will have to adhere to public health measures and residents are encouraged to continue practising physical distancing and wearing a face covering.
While stage one is set to begin next week, Ford did not provide any details on how long the stage would last or when stage two would begin.
The premier said the decision to move to stage one was based on the numbers.
“It was all based on the numbers coming down and we have to see a trend for a couple of weeks so there’s no time frame on when we move to stage two,” said Ford.
“It will take as long as it takes to get the numbers down consistently over a couple of weeks.”
Ford was asked numerous times about when gatherings of more than five people would be allowed.
He said he didn’t have that answer, noting he sympathizes with everyone wanting to see their family.
“I really do understand the pain you’re going through, that your family’s going through and other families are going through,” said Ford.
“I just ask that we hang in there just a little bit longer.”
When asked about schools and childcare, Ford said announcements will be coming early next week on those items.
Province wants feedback
The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee has launched an online survey to gather feedback from people and organizations across all regions and sectors of the province.
The committee hopes to use the information gathered to shape the next phases of the government’s response to COVID-19.
The survey asks questions about the impacts of the virus on personal finances, business supports and government relief measures.
The survey can be completed at www.ontario.ca/reopen and will be open until June.