Ontario Releases Outline For Re-Opening The Provincial Economy

The Government of Ontario has released a plan to re-open Canada’s most populous province – sort of.

Premier Doug Ford outlined a plan to restart the provincial economy that was short on details and did not provide any timelines. The three-step framework for easing restrictions introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic is “not a calendar, it’s a roadmap, said Ford. The plan to re-open comes as figures on COVID-19 in the province showed a third consecutive day of falling growth rates in new cases.

The three-stage plan will see businesses and workplaces re-open at different times, though likely with distancing measures in place, and restrictions on gatherings eased, though the final stage will retain a ban on large sporting events and concerts.

Stage one in the framework could include opening select workplaces that can modify operations, such as providing curbside pickup or delivery, opening parks, allowing for more people at certain events such as funerals, and having hospitals resume some non-urgent surgeries.

Stage two could include opening more businesses, such as service, retail or office workplaces, opening more outdoor spaces, and allowing some larger public gatherings. The third and final stage would include having all workplaces open and further relaxing rules on public gatherings — though large ones such as sporting events and concerts would still be restricted.

Each of the three stages will last about two to four weeks, and whether Ontario moves to the next stage will depend on advice from the chief medical officer of health. Dr. David Williams said that the province is still in the “pandemic phase.”

Williams will be looking for a consistent, two-to-four-week decrease in the number of new cases and a decrease in cases that can’t be traced back to a source, the framework states. Ontario reported 424 new COVID-19 cases Monday and 57 new deaths. That brings the total of cases in the province to 14,856, a 2.9% increase over Sunday’s total, a third day of falling growth rates.