THUNDER BAY - A very limited number of seasonal businesses and services in the province will be permitted to reopen on May 4, but must follow strict guidelines to protect staff and customers.
“We are in the position now to look at when we can start to open up safely,” Premier Doug Ford said. “Based on our framework, on a robust health and safety guidelines, it is clear there are certain workplaces and businesses that can operate safely. That means they can physically distance staff and customers.”
The provincial government made the announcement during its daily media briefing on Friday.
The businesses permitted to open include garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick up and delivery only, lawn care and landscaping, automatic and self-serve car washes, and auto dealerships by appointment only.
Marinas and golf courses will not be permitted to open on Monday, but can begin preparations for the upcoming season.
Essential construction projects will also be permitted to continue on Monday, which includes shipping and logistics, broadband and telecommunication projects, protects that support the delivery of goods and services, municipal projects, colleges and universities, childcare centres, schools, and site preparation for institutional, commercial, industrial, and residential development.
“Our hard work and perseverance and patience has paid off,” Ford said. “Today’s news shows us that if we stay the course, if we stay vigilant, if we take the measured approach, we can keep moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go. But today is a glimmer of hope and it couldn’t come soon enough.”
Earlier this week, the province unveiled its framework for reopening the economy. No timelines were provided, but the three-stage process will rely on closely monitoring the situation and any new community spread of COVID-19.
Ford said additional businesses and services reopening will depend on a steady downward trend of decreasing COVID-19 numbers in the province.
“As soon as it’s safe, we all want people to get back to work. While we are not in a position to reopen, we are a step closer,” Ford said. “We have to see two weeks of a downward trend. Minimum before we open up the economy. We are going to open this up as a trickle, which we are doing.”
All businesses and services that are permitted to reopen must adhere to guidelines released by the province this week, including practicing physical distancing for staff and customers, using curbside pickup, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting workplaces.
Bylaw officers will follow up the guidelines across the province.
And with warmer weather coming to much of the province, Ford is advising the public that just because some seasonable businesses will be permitted to open, it is still up to the people of Ontario to follow public health recommendations and continue to practice proper physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Even when we open up the economy a little bit, people have to practice social distancing. They just have to,” Ford said. “We’ve come all this way. We’ve worked so hard. Why go backwards just based on warm weather. Hopefully it will come sooner than later that we can open parks and other recreational areas. But you still have to practice social distancing.”