Ontario takes biggest step towards reopening as thousands head back to work under new reality
TORONTO -- Retail stores with a street entrance were allowed to reopen and thousands of people returned to work Monday morning marking Ontario’s most significant move to reopen the provincial economy.
This comes after garden centres, hardware stores and safety supply stores all reopened over the weekend after weeks of being closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Like retail stores, some residential construction projects have also been given the green light to open up while observing strict public health measures laid out by the Ontario government.
The reopening of select businesses represents “phase two” of the province’s plan to restart the economy, released last month and dubbed “A Framework for Reopening our Province,” as the new cases of COVID-19 reported daily in Ontario continues to fall.
On Sunday, the province reported 294 new cases of the novel coronavirus--the lowest number of new cases reported since March 31.
Here’s a full list of what’s reopening today and the types of public health measures you can expect to see.
What is reopening today?
- Retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.
- Below-grade, multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums can start, existing above-grade projects can continue.
- 500 of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation areas can open for day-use only. The remaining 115 parks are set to reopen by the end of the week.
What are the public health measures?
Last month, the province released more than 60 sector-specific guidelines ahead of some businesses reopening Monday.
These guidelines are especially important for retail stores with a street entrance offering curbside pickup and delivery options as they affect both employees and customers. These include:
- Minimizing or eliminating exposure by having customers pre-pay online or use credit, debit or e-transfer.
- Customers are not allowed to use their own containers, reusable bags or boxes.
- Retailers are responsible for establishing a process that minimizes the time required to receive the customer and complete any curbside transactions (i.e. have the customer call or otherwise notify upon arrival).
- Maintaining control of loading product into a customer's vehicle where possible. The province recommends asking the customer to remain in the vehicle and ask them to remotely open the door to limit contact with surfaces. "This will aid in maintaining physical distancing and avoid unnecessary person to person interactions," the province says.
- Following completion of curbside transaction or home delivery, ensure that employees have sanitized their hands and any surfaces.
- Establish clear visuals to show where the designated pickup area is located and the boundaries of the pickup area.
- Increase cleaning frequency on commonly touched surfaces. "Cleaning and disinfecting should be performed regularly and after possible exposure. Be sure to follow safe practices regarding cleaning times and cleaning agents," the province says.
A full list of public health measures for curbside pickup and delivery services can be found here.
Later this week, the LCBO will extend its hours, opening from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, The stores are currently open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on those days. Sunday hours will remain the same, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
All sector-specific guidelines are available here.
Which businesses will open next?
The government has remained tight-lipped on which businesses would be the next to reopen.
However, earlier this month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford suggested that businesses should begin preparing their safety protocols now, instead of waiting for an official announcement from the province.
“No matter if its three weeks, four weeks, two weeks, whenever it is, start prepping," Ford said at the time.
“There’s the warning right now. It’s coming. It’s inevitable. The numbers keep going down, we’re going to get the economy going based on health and science.”