stage 1 reopening ontario

Doug Ford says Ontario will begin stage 1 of reopening on Thursday

Government officials are gearing up to release a new, expanded list of business types allowed to reopen in Ontario, according to Premier Doug Ford, who says we can all expect some "good news" on Thursday.

"We're building a solid foundation for the cautious reopening of our province," said Ford during his daily pandemic press conference on Tuesday. "With the progress we've made, I'm confident we can move forward."

We'll learn more about what "moving forward" in this context looks like on Thursday, but Ford did say his good news would pertain to "people getting back to work," "opening workplaces," "getting paycheques out the door" and "slowly getting back to normal."

"On Thursday we will share more more details about the next stage of reopening our province," he said. "We'll be reopening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services. We can get more people back to work."

Ford also said that we had now hit "stage one" of his government's framework for reopening the economy, released just over two weeks ago.

According to the framework document, stage one of the three-part plan could involve any and all of the following:

  • For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements (e.g., curbside pick-up or delivery).
  • Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allow for a greater number of individuals to attend some events, such as funerals.
  • Continued protections for vulnerable populations and the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks. Hospitals beginning to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries and other health care services.

We can expect more concrete and specific details later in the week about any restrictions that are being lifted ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.

For stage one to be considered successful, Ontario's chief medical officer of health will need to see a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.

Stages two and three will be judged under the same criteria, which also include sufficient hospital capacities, fast contact tracing and testing rates high enough to detect new outbreaks quickly enough to stop them.

Ford seems optimistic about moving forward in light of recently-falling new COVID-19 case numbers, but he did stress on Tuesday that we're not in the clear yet.

The premier confirmed that he would seek an extension at Queen's Park today for his current emergency order, which prohibits people from gathering in groups larger than five, among other things. It is expected that the order will be extended until at least June 2.

"This extension will also continue enforcing important public health measures," said Ford. "While we have made significant progress, we still have a long way to go."

UPDATE: Premier Ford clarified on Wednesday, one day after the publication of this piece, that Ontario would not be entering stage one on Thursday, but rather providing details about what stage one will entail: 

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