As Ontarians begin to measure the duration of COVID-19’s impact in months, rather than weeks, our collective effort to stop the spread is working. Key metrics for measuring the spread of this deadly virus are slowly but surely moving in the right direction, critical hospital capacity has not been overwhelmed, and systems have been put in place to identify and track potential new cases and outbreaks. That is why, starting this week, we re moving forward with the first stage of reopening the province, with key public health measures in place.
The first stage of reopening focuses on workplaces that are well-positioned to adopt workplace safety measures and get more people back to work, while not overburdening public transit and other services. This includes:
- The resumption of scheduled surgeries, as well as certain health/medical services such as in-person counselling.
- Opening libraries for pick-up and delivery.
- The resumption of individual recreational sports, such as tennis, as well as individual competition sports with no spectators (such as water sports on lakes).
- Opening veterinary services and other animal services such as pet grooming and boarding.
- Opening retail stores that have a dedicated street-front entrance, with limitations either through appointments or restrictions to the number of people at one time, in order to ensure physical distancing.
In order to support the phased reopening process, our government, along with health and safety associations, have released more than 90 safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance and manufacturing. As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available to help protect the safety of workers and the general public.
Our careful and gradual approach to reopening will allow business owners and service providers time to ensure workplaces are safe for staff, consumers and the general public. Ontario will proceed cautiously and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health. With key public health measures in place and workplace safety guidance available, we will continue to make decisions with healthy and safety of people as the top priority.
As parts of our economy re-open, I encourage you to shop local whenever possible. Local businesses and their employees have had a challenging time during the pandemic, many having to shut down or operate under strict restrictions. These same locally owned small businesses have often been where our local charities, schools, and sports teams have asked for donations over the years, and some continue to donate food and Personal Protective Equipment to our hospital, food banks and long term care homes. They need our help right now, and all of us can do our part by shopping local.
To ensure that these first actions to reopen the province are a success, I also want to urge everyone to continue adhering to public health measures, including practising physical distancing or wearing a face covering when physical distancing is difficult or not possible, as well as regular handwashing and staying home when ill. We will closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when certain public health restrictions, including adjustments to social gatherings can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.
To learn more about our phased reopening of Ontario’s economy, or for the full list of businesses and services that can reopen as part of Stage 1, visit my website at sylviajonesmpp.ca or call my office at 1-800-265-1603.