Ontario allowing small list of businesses to reopen with 'strict safety guidelines'
Businesses include garden centres and nurseries and some construction projects
The Ontario government is allowing some workplaces to reopen, as long as they meet "strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak."
In a news release issued Friday, the province announced the businesses that will be allowed to start up again include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.
"We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.
"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 province says the following businesses will be able to begin operating on May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:
- Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pickup and delivery only.
- Lawn care and landscaping.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
At the province's daily news briefing, Ford said he is optimistic that additional businesses will be able to open up safely in "the near future."
"We're heading in the right direction," Ford said, noting that many of the businesses that will be allowed to open next week are seasonal in nature.
"We have reason to be optimistic."
Physical distancing still key
The province also noted in its news release that it is critical that people continue to stay home, practise physical distancing, and only go out for essential reasons.
"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," Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
"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 practise physical distancing and good hygiene habits."
WATCH | Ford talks about businesses reopening:
Ford isn't the only leader to relax rules.
On Friday, Toronto Mayor John Tory suggested people can enjoy the outdoors this weekend so long as they're mindful to keep their distance from others.
"I just think if people are careful and they're mindful of the two metres, they can go to the park, even though I know we're supposed to be telling them to stay home," he said.
The province released a new framework for reopening Ontario earlier this week. It says Ontario must see a "consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases" before the government can start loosening restrictions and begin reopening the economy.
Ford echoed that sentiment Friday, saying he wants to see two weeks of "real positive results" before more restrictions are loosened.
According to the province, the stages for reopening are as follows:
- Stage 1: Select workplaces that can "immediately meet" public health guidance and some outdoor spaces such as parks.
- Stage 2: More workplaces based on risk assessments, which could include some service industries and retail; and some larger gatherings.
- Stage 3: Further relax restrictions on public gatherings and open all work places "responsibly." Even in this phase, however, "large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future."
Each stage would last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario's chief medical officer of health could then tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.