TORONTO – The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.
Last week’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided general recommendations on how the openings of businesses and workplaces could be implemented to support safe operations, including strict adherence to health and safety requirements.
“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 Premier Ford. “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.”
The government, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures will help employers prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected.
By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses were permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4: 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; 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.
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; child care centres; schools; and site preparation, excavation and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development are also now permitted.
“Ontario workers and businesses have shown exemplary co-operation and resilience throughout the course of this crisis,” said Minister Fedeli. “We’re beginning to ease restrictions on select businesses as we carefully and methodically re-open Ontario’s economy and continue together on our path to renewed prosperity.”
Although certain businesses are being permitted to reopen, it is critical that people continue to stay home, practise physical distancing and only go out for essential reasons, to pick up groceries, prescriptions or to keep a medical appointment. It is through these simple actions that Ontario is making progress to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“As we begin planning for the next phase of our fight against COVID-19, Ontarians should continue to stay home as much as possible to ensure we stop as quickly as possible the spread of this virus,” said Minister Elliott. “While we have made tremendous progress in our shared battle against this new virus, we are not done yet. We need to keep up the fight by continuing to practice physical distancing and good hygiene habits.”
On April 27, the government released ‘A Framework for Reopening our Province,’ which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.
While the government remains in Phase One of Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19, ‘Protect and Support,’ allowing certain businesses and workplaces to open under strict guidelines demonstrates the government’s commitment to balance the needs of the economy with the health and safety of the people of Ontario.
“People’s efforts are paying off and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Minister Phillips. “Our response has always been based on the current status of the outbreak in our province, and on what makes sense for Ontario. 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.”