Premier Ford and several key cabinet ministers today outlined a roadmap for putting the province’s businesses back online.
The re-opening plan is based on three, separate phases, tentatively consisting of two-to-four-week timeframes. However, the premier was clear on the provisional nature of the roadmap and emphasized the plan would not be based on set calendar dates. He stressed this is only a framework and continues to be a fluid situation. In the meantime, the province will continue listening to the advice of experts in the medical community on how to gradually unwrap the economy.
The framework document states:
“The government will reopen Ontario businesses and public spaces gradually. This will be based on advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including the criteria….as public health measures are lifted and as economic activity resumes, the public will need to continue to maintain physical distancing and hand washing, along with self-isolation when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Remote work arrangements should continue where feasible.”
The document – which notes this staged approach “reflects Ontario’s new normal” – sets examples of the government’s gradual approach to reopening Ontario. Here is what the document states for each stage:
- Stage 1: 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 pickup or delivery);
- Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which could include some service industries, and additional office and retail workplaces;
- Stage 3: Opening all workplaces ‘responsibly’.
The Province also announced it will consult each business sector regarding their unique needs to increase the likelihood of success as Ontario progresses through the reopening stages. During today’s press conference, ministers said the consultations will provide the province with input on creating guidance documents for reopening each sector. The province expects to provide Ontario businesses with training and support to meet the criteria outlined by these guidance documents.
“…many key sectors deemed essential have remained open during the COVID-19 outbreak, following strict guidance to help their employees stay safe,” the document states. “It is vital that they continue to do so. The government will rely on their expertise …The government, in partnership with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations and based on input from public health officials, will provide guidelines to employers on how to open safely and protect their employees and customers. Documents will be made available across many sectors, as well as training to provide guidance to workplaces entering the restart phase.”
The Ontario Trucking Association applauds the government for its progressive and measured approach and will be working with the province and all relevant stakeholders throughout this reopening process.