Today marks an important day in Ontario's fight against COVID-19 as the province is kicking off Stage 1 of restarting the economy, which includes the reopening of many additional businesses.
Over the long weekend, golf courses and marinas were granted permission to resume operations and starting today, all retail stores that are not in a shopping mall and have a street entrance will be allowed to reopen to customers as long as they follow strict public health guidelines.
This includes having measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time.
Other businesses allowed to resume operations today include animal services like grooming and regular veterinary appointments and certain household services like cleaning, maintenance, housekeepers, and cooks.
“We are getting thousands of people back to work. We have the framework, safety guidelines and capacity in our healthcare system,” Premier Doug Ford said last week. “Thanks to our collective efforts we are prepared for the next stage of reopening the economy,” the Premier added.
While some argue it’s too soon to begin reopening the province, Ford emphasized that places should only open if they are ready.
Stage 1 of reopening the economy also includes lifting all essential workplace limits on construction.
Additionally, all 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 also resume. 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.
Certain health and medical services will also be able to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.
Today's reopening is part of Stage 1 of Phase 2 of the framework for reopening the province — there are three stages in this phase.
The framework, which was announced last month, will be overseen by public health officials who 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 before moving to the next one.
This announcement comes as Ontario reported 304 new cases as of Monday morning, bringing the province's total number of cases to 22,957.