The Government of Ontario implemented the “Framework for Reopening our Province” in the ongoing fight against the Coronavirus. The framework provides the principles the government will use to reopen business, services and public spaces in gradual stages. The framework consists of three phases, “Protect and Support”, “Restart”, and “Recover”. It is a roadmap to help individuals and business understand what to expect as the Province moves forward.
The first phase, “Protect and Support” focused on protecting the health and well-being of individuals and families. The Government provided support to families, frontline health care workers, essential workers and businesses and provided immediate support to protect people and jobs.
The second phase – restart the economy – will be done in three stages. Each stage outlines the criteria that will be used to decide when it is safe to move to the next stage. Each stage will last for an approximate two-to four-week period and during this time the province will monitor closely for any resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Businesses must follow public health and safety measures and ensure their workplace safety policies and guidelines are updated and provide best practices for safe social distancing, hand washing, respiratory hygiene and sanitization and sanitization of surfaces. Physical barriers, staggered shifts and contactless payments options are some of the ways business can ensure safe social distancing.
The Province will start by easing restrictions for workplaces that can operate safely by following public health and safety guidelines. Included in the list are retail stores with street entrance, nurseries and garden centers, hardware and safety stores and essential construction. On May 6th, the Premier of Ontario announced the reopening of several business and public spaces. Garden centers and nurseries were cleared to open their doors on May 8th. Hardware stores and safety supply stores were given the go ahead to reopen for instore purchase as of May 9th, 2020 and non-essential retail outlets with street entrance were cleared to reopen on May 11th, 2020 for curbside pickup and delivery. The Government has also expanded the list of essential construction which will allow some multi-residential constructions such as apartments and condominium projects to begin work and allow the continuation of existing projects. The province will begin to open some outdoor spaces such as parks and increase the number of people allowed to attend some events, such as funerals. Hospitals can also begin offering some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries and other health care services.
If stage 1 proves to be successful, the Province will move to stage 2 which will allow for the opening of more workplaces including some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. The Province will open more outdoor spaces and allow individuals to attend larger public gatherings.
If stage 2 is successful, the Province will allow for the opening of all workplaces and remove restrictions on public gatherings. Restrictions will however stay in place for large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events for the foreseeable future.
In the final phase – “Recover” – the government will work to restore long-term prosperity for the benefit of every individual and family in Ontario. The Government will start by partnering with business and other sectors to create jobs and opportunities across the Province.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the economy and people’s lives and livelihood have been impacted. Most businesses have had to close their doors temporarily and some for good. Businesses are eager to reopen their doors and families are eager to have their lives return to normal, a new normal. It has been a slow and steady battle but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Files and more information on the “Framework for Reopening Our Province”.
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