Province reports 258 additional cases, the fewest new cases in a single day since March 29
Ontario’s first stage of economic recovery will include resuming construction projects and the reopening of some workplaces, seasonal activities and healthcare settings — but if you’re looking to find out when schools or day cares might reopen or when you can expand your social bubble, you won’t find the details in today’s plan.
Starting May 19, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures. Outdoor recreational activities and many individual sport competitions will also get the green light starting Tuesday.
Golf courses, marinas and private parks will be allowed to open earlier, starting Saturday — ahead of the Victoria Day Weekend.
The first stage also involves the “gradually restarting” scheduled surgeries, along with allowing libraries to open for pickup, and allowing property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance, to resume.
Domestic workers, such as housekeepers and cooks, can also resume work Tuesday — although Ontarians are technically still required to limit contact to those inside their own households.
“Businesses should open only if they’re ready,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned, adding the province will be watching the COVID-19 case numbers like a hawk. “We cannot let our guard down now.”
Stage one of the province’s reopening plan will see workplaces gradually begin to reopen “but working from home should continue as much as possible,” the plan states.
As for when the next stage of the recovery plan might begin, “there is no timeframe” on that, the premier said.
In its recovery framework last month, the government said each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario’s chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
On question of how the province might change course if the number of COVID-19 cases spike, Ford said, “We always go by the advice of our chief medical officer.”
How bad would things need to get to press pause?
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams was asked about what threshold the province would have to meet before pressing pause or rolling back its reopening plans.
“If we do get a large increase in a period of time, we’d have to ask a number of questions,” he said.
“Where are the cases coming from? How significant is it? Is it contained? … I can’t really say any specific number — any increases of certain mounts will always be of concern for us if we can’t explain how it’s been and why it can’t be contained.”
At Thursday’s news conference, Health Minister Christine Elliott was also asked about when Ontarians can expect to expand their physical contact beyond their own households.
“We don’t have the final answer yet, but we are studying it,” she said, adding the province is also looking at when religious settings might be able to resume regular operations.
Ford also warned restaurants will need to remain closed for the time being, and will be limited to takeout for now.
The province also announced a new service to help business owners find suppliers of personal protective equipment to keep their workplaces safe.
Ontario’s official opposition reacted to the news by pointing out that over the past 30 days, Ontario has averaged just 12,600 tests daily — far short of Ford’s stated target of 20,000 — and that not all positive cases have been thoroughly contact-traced.
“Everyone is eager to start easing restrictions, but Doug Ford needs to dramatically ramp up testing and contact tracing to make it safer for everyone when we do that,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
“No one wants to see Ontario take one step forward and two steps back. We don’t want to see more people getting sick, and freshly re-opened businesses having to close again, she said in a statement.”
NOTE: If you are self isolating or are not comfortable visiting public places, I’d be happy to bring any supplies that you need. Also, if you know someone who is in need, contact me anytime and and we can make arrangements. If you need anything, call me, email me, text me, DM me, I’m happy to help.