Phase 1 of Ontario's reopening to allow all construction, most retail, individual sports
Chris Fox And Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, May 14, 2020 6:00AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 14, 2020 5:16PM EDT
Ontario’s first phase of its reopening plan involves a full resumption of retail outside of malls, and all construction projects, starting on May 19.
And on Saturday, May 16, golf courses and marinas will be allowed to open to the public.
Physical distancing measures will still be required in all sectors, and retail shops will have to limit the number of customers they allow in at one time, or conduct business by appointment.
The plan also calls for the resumption of some individual, non-team sports such as cycling, golf driving ranges, horse riding, sport shooting clubs, rowing, gymnastics and figure skating.
All public pools in the province will remain closed until further notice.
"Businesses should reopen only if they are ready, and the truth is that this is all dependent on the numbers," Premier Ford said Thursday.
"As we get more and more people back to work, the risk of flare-ups is real so we need to be vigilant."
This Phase of reopening does not involve reopening restaurants under any circumstances, nor does it raise the number of people who can gather in any place beyond five.
“We always go by the advice of the (Chief Medical Officer) and the health team – keep in mind the vast majority of the economy is still shut down,” Ford said.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said hospital admissions to intensive care and intubations are falling, and case growth is on a long-term drop.
“A growing number of public health units are contacting 90 per cent of cases within 24 hours as we deploy more resources to support these efforts,” Elliott said.
Also, all vehicle dealerships and scientific research laboratories will be allowed to resume operations, provided they respect sector-specific rules about physical distancing.
All scheduled medical diagnostic tests and scheduled medical procedures will also be allowed to resume, provided the facilities meet specific conditions regarding screening for COVID-19.
The media sector, including newspapers, book publishing, interactive digital media, film and television post-production and video game development will also be allowed to get underway.
For municipalities, all libraries will be allowed to conduct business via curbside pickup on May 19.
A whole variety of “indoor and outdoor household services” can also resume on May 19, including nanny and babysitter services, maids, cooks, cleaners, house painters and maintenance and repair works.
After Stage 1, Stage 2 of the reopening will involve resumption of certain service industries, offices and opening more “community spaces.”
Ford wouldn't say how long the province would stay on Phase 1 before moving to Phase 2, saying everything would depend on daily COVID-19 test results, which showed the lowest number of new infections in two and a half months on Thursday.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Thursday that this phase may last two, or three or even four weeks, where they will be watching closely for new cases.
"When we go to Stage One of Phase 2 – it’s for three week period, maybe four weeks we don’t know, we want to say ‘have we seen any changes that are concerning in that time period,’ has there been an uptick or rise in cases identified, have there been localized outbreaks?”
When asked about personal care services such as barber shops and hair or nail salons, Ford said they could not reopen yet.
“Look at my hair I look like a sheepdog right now,” he said, adding everything was contingent on low testing numbers.
Elliott said the province is also asking the public to wear masks or face coverings while out in any circumstance where physically distancing is not possible.
Ford wouldn’t say how long Ontario would stay in Phase 1 before moving on to Phase 2.
“There’s no timeframe on Stage 2 – we’ll take as long as it takes to get the numbers down.”
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she doubted whether Ontario's testing and contact tracing capacity was adequate to begin reopening.
“No one wants to see Ontario take one step forward and two steps back. We don’t want to see more people getting sick, and freshly re-opened businesses having to close again, because of outbreaks — and the solution to that is to test, test, test, and have the capacity to trace every positive case.”
She said Ontario has averaged 12,600 tests per day over the past 30 days, lower than the earlier minumum benchmark promised in April.
Today’s announcement comes as some Greater Toronto Area mayors express concern about whether the province is ready to reopen.
On Wednesday Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown pleaded with politicians “not to pick a date out of thin air” for the reopening of the economy and to continue to follow the advice of public health officials.
“There may be calls in smaller communities and rural areas to reopen right away; I certainly don’t feel that in Brampton or in the GTA,” Brown said. “I’ve been on regular calls with fellow GTA mayors and we all believe that it’s essential we listen to public health.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie also cautioned against a rush to open things back up on Wednesday, noting that in doing so “we would be running the risk of a second wave.”