TORONTO ― Some good news came for the Ontario economy on Friday afternoon, as Premier Doug Ford announced the initial list of businesses that will be allowed to reopen on Monday.
Those businesses, Ford said, will have to follow proper health and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic if they want to open.
Seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects are on the list of businesses announced on May 1.
“We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment,” said Ford.
He added further reductions in COVID-19 numbers are required to further reopen the provincial economy.
“While further reductions in the spread are needed before we can begin reopening the province, we have the right framework and the right workplace guidelines in place to do so gradually and safely,” he said.
The following businesses will be allowed to open on May 4 at 12:01am:
- garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
- lawn care and landscaping;
- automatic and self-serve car washes;
- auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
- additional essential construction projects that include:
- shipping and logistics;
- broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
- any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
- municipal projects;
- colleges and universities;
- childcare centres;
- schools; and
- site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
- golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
- marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public (boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed).
The announcement comes one day after the Ontario government released a set of more than 60 guidelines designed to protect workers, customers and the public from COVID-19.
The sector-specific guidelines, developed by Ontario’s health and safety associations, include actions employers can begin to plan for as they prepare to reopen, such as:
- ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, like eliminating pay-at-the-door options, holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow;
- changes to the workplace, like installing plexiglass barriers, increasing the air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to increase airflow, and using boot sanitizing trays; and
- promoting proper workplace sanitation, providing personal protective equipment, substituting dry dusting with vacuuming, ensuring customer-facing staff are given hand sanitizer, providing a place to dispose of sanitizing wipes, and enforcing handwashing before and after breaks.
Despite certain businesses reopening on Monday, Deputy Premier Christine Elliott told Ontario residents it is critical to continue to stay home and only go out for essential reasons to stop the spread of the virus.
“While we have made tremendous progress in our shared battle against this new virus, we are not done yet,” Elliott said.
“We need to keep up the fight by continuing to practise physical distancing and good hygiene habits.”
Finance minister Rod Phillips said “we can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” but noted the province’s economy is not in the reopening phase just yet.
“Our response has always been based on the current status of the outbreak in our province, and on what makes sense for Ontario,” said Phillips.
“To be clear ― we haven’t moved into the reopening phase of our response to COVID-19. Not yet. But based on the best public health advice available to us, we are a step closer.”