Ontario to begin stage one of reopening the economy

May 14 2020, 5:41 pm

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that private parks, campgrounds, golf courses, and other retail businesses will reopen in the province over the next week. It is all part of Ontario’s first stage of its reopening framework.

Starting on Saturday, May 16, golf courses will be open, with clubhouses only used for washrooms and restaurants just for take-out.

Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicle owners that have a full season contract.

Also, marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use and businesses that board animals will reopen.

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, on Tuesday, May 19, the province will officially enter Stage 1 in the reopening of the province.

Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.

Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments will also reopen.

Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization can open on Tuesday.

This includes 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.

There will also be scheduled surgeries and in-person counselling permitted starting next week, as well lifting essential workplace limits on construction.

Ford emphasized that these places can open “only if they are ready.”

“Thanks to our collective efforts we are prepared for the next stage of reopening the economy,” the premier said.

“We are getting thousands of people back to work. We have the framework, safety guidelines and capacity in our healthcare system.”

Ford emphasized that the risk of flare ups “is real” and that the province must stay “vigilant” and not ignore the health advice of the provinces’ top health officials.

“Because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians, we are making real and significant progress in our battle against COVID-19, with the number of new cases each day shrinking,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott in a statement.

“As we move forward with caution, public health experts will closely monitor each stage of reopening to carefully assess the evolution of the outbreak, so we can benefit from the best practices and lessons learned across Ontario.”

Earlier on Thursday, the province said it is expanding its testing guidelines for COVID-19.

According to Elliott, anyone in Ontario with coronavirus symptoms can now be tested.

“As we plan for a gradual reopening, today the Chief Medical Officer of Health will expand COVID-19 testing guidelines so that anyone with symptoms can be tested,” Elliott said in a tweet. “Doing so will help identify and contain new cases and monitor any shifts in community spread to keep Ontarians safe.”

The minister said the expansion is due to the near completion of testing at all long-term care homes.

Ontario reported 258 new cases as of Thursday morning, marking the lowest number of new cases since March.

The province said it will be providing an update on school closures and child care early next week.

Ford’s announcement on Thursday is part of Stage 1 of Phase 2 of the framework for reopening the province — there are three stages in this phase.

The framework outlines the stages, of which there will be two-to-four weeks between the launch of each stage to allow health officials to assess conditions before moving to the next one.

“This will determine if measures should be adjusted, loosened, or tightened. This approach will enable the government to ensure there are appropriate measures in place to open safely and limit health risks,” the province said.

Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. Select essential construction projects have also been expanded.

On Monday, provincial parks began to reopen allowing for visitors to hike and birdwatch.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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