On May 14, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that additional workplaces will be permitted to reopen, as the province plans to move into stage one of its “restart” phase on Tuesday, May 19.
In addition, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli, announced the launch of a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers.
Premier Ford and Minister Fedeli were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott; Minister of Finance Rod Phillips; and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and ministers took questions from media regarding reopening timelines for sectors not included in today’s announcement and plans to ease restrictions on gathering sizes.
Ontario to Begin “Restart” Phase on May 19
This afternoon, Premier Ford announced additional seasonal services and activities that will be permitted to reopen as early as Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. These services include:
- Golf courses, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for takeout;
- Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches;
- Private parks and campgrounds, to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract;
- Businesses that board animals, including stables.
Premier Ford also announced that Ontario is prepared to enter stage one of its “restart” phase next Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. On Tuesday, additional workplaces that are able to implement health and safety measures will be permitted to reopen. The workplaces opening as a part of this stage will permit more Ontarians to return to work, while not overburdening public transit and other services. Workplaces and activities permitted to resume on Tuesday include:
- Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances, with measures in place to enable physical distancing;
- Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators;
- Animal services, including grooming, training, and regular veterinary appointments;
- Indoor and outdoor household services such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance;
- All construction;
- Certain health and medical services, including in-person counselling, scheduled surgeries, and professional services.
Employers are asked to consult the safety guidance documents released by the Ontario government to safely adapt their business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Ford was clear that businesses should only reopen on Tuesday if they are prepared to do so safely. He added that proceeding with stage one of Ontario’s “restart” phase is contingent on continuing to see a downward trend in new COVID-19 case numbers. The government is prepared to react quickly if a sudden increase in cases is observed.
To support business-owners and workers as workplaces are increasingly permitted to reopen, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli announced that the Ontario government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on Ontario-based suppliers of PPE. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory can be accessed atOntario.ca/ppe.
Premier Ford also confirmed that job protection measures will remain in place through all stages of economic reopening in Ontario. These include job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, as well as a provision that employees taking this leave will not be required to provide a medical note.
In response to a question about what types of medical procedures will be permitted to resume on May 19, Minister Elliott said that the specific procedures are likely to vary across hospitals. Hospitals will first be required to provide a readiness assessment, which must be approved at the regional level before procedures can begin.
Questions from Media – Reopening Other Sectors and Gathering Size Restrictions
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and ministers took questions from the media regarding reopening timelines for sectors not included in today’s announcement and plans to ease restrictions on gathering sizes.
Premier Ford was specifically asked about projected timelines for reopening personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, as well as restaurants. Premier Ford responded that personal services businesses are likely to reopen in stage two or three. As usual, this will be dependant on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
In response to questions about loosening restrictions on gathering sizes, Minister Elliott confirmed that the COVID-19 Command Table is working on this issue and is monitoring approaches, such as household bubbles, being taken in other provinces.
Minister Phillips added that announcements regarding allowable group size, as well as child care and education, will be made in the coming days.