Ontario has announced a list of more businesses than can open, with strict guidelines in place, as the province moves with "cautious optimism" to restart the economy.
Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday garden centres and nurseries will be allowed to reopen as of Friday at 12:01 a.m. On Saturday, hardware stores and safety supply stores will also be allowed to reopen.
On May 11, retail stores with a street entrance will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup.
“We’ve been preparing to get more and more of our economy working again safely and cautiously because when it comes to reopening our economy I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Ford said Wednesday.
MORE: Full list of businesses that can reopen in Ontario
"I want to be clear, all public health measures remain in place and will be strictly enforced. We can't take the progress we have made for granted."
"We will move with cautious optimism."
A small list of other non-essential businesses in the province were allowed to reopen on Monday, when some seasonal businesses and construction projects were given the green light to continue operating.
Businesses that can now open their doors to customers will have to follow the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies currently do, including promoting physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, sanitizing surfaces, installing physical barriers, staggering shifts, and offering contactless payment.
The province is not yet at the point of entering the first stage of its reopening framework, which -- in addition to allowing workplaces that can modify operations to reopen -- would see the opening of parks, allowing for more people at certain events such as funerals, and having hospitals resume some non-urgent surgeries.
Before Ontario can reopen, the chief medical officer of health is looking for a consistent, two-to-four week decrease in the number of new cases.
Last week, provincial government released a list of sector-specific guidelines industries must follow in order to reopen.
The government said the new safety guidelines provide direction to various industries including retail, health care, manufacturing, tourism, restaurant and food service, offices, construction sites, and transit and transportation services.
The premier also unveiled a three-phase plan to reopen following weeks of shutdown. The plan, dubbed "A Framework for Reopening our Province," states the parameters of each "gradual stage."
Ontario also extended its emergency orders today, which include the continued closure of non-essential businesses, as the province reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 and 68 more deaths.
With files from The Canadian Press.