Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the economy will reopen in three stages, but no specific dates are ready yet.
According to the province, it is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely.
Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.
On Monday, Ford said this is a roadmap and not a calendar.
“It lays out the threshold and targets we need to work toward,” Ford said. “As long as the virus remains a threat we will continue to take every precaution necessary. No one wants to open up the economy more than I do. But all it takes is one person to spread the virus to hundreds.”
The Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use 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.
The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.
The first stage will be for businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance.
Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
The second stage will be opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
And the third stage, will open of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.
“Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus,” Ford said.
“At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery.”
- See also:
Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.
Ford said that the government will consider important factors, such as the risk of the spread of the virus and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe, in order to reopen the economy.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily coronavirus cases.
Also, a sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment.
And, approximately 90% of new coronavirus contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread as well as ongoing testing of suspected virus cases, especially of vulnerable populations.
According to Ontario health officials, the province will now see 20,000 or less total cases by the end of April, compared to the 80,000 originally projected — the province is now trending toward a best case scenario rather than a worst case scenario.
As of Monday, there are 14,856 total cases and 892 reported deaths in Ontario.