Ontario is planning for the next phase of responding to the coronavirus (COVID‑19) outbreak by reopening the province, but it is doing so in a slow and methodical fashion over three stages.
Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The three-stage plan, which doesn’t include firm dates, is entitled “A Framework for Reopening our Province. It’s actually more of a “roadmap” not a calendar, Ford reiterated at an April 27 press conference. It outlines the method and principles the government will use to safely reopen businesses, services, and public spaces, as well as loosen emergency measures.
“The framework is about how we are reopening not when we are reopening,” Ford said. “I won’t set hard dates until we are ready because the virus travels at its own speed.”
Stages should last anywhere between two and four weeks, but will depend on the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The framework is about how we’re reopening, not when we’re reopening,” Ford said. “Let me be crystal clear: As long as this virus remains a threat to Ontario, we will continue to take every precaution necessary.”
The three stages are as follows:
Stage 1: Opening select workplaces that can immediately modify their operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces (e.g., parks) and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals can offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, which may include some service industries and office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.
Throughout each stage, the government will consider factors, such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures (e.g., physical distancing, hand washing, respiratory hygiene, as well as continued protections for vulnerable populations) to keep workplaces safe.
In addition to the three-stage roadmap, health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:
- A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
- Sufficient acute and critical care capacity (including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of PPE)
As for sports and concerts – Ford says he doesn’t see it happening before August. So far, social media reaction has been mixed:
Will people in Ontario be able to attend sports and music events by August? The Premier’s response reflects what we’ve seen from leaders across the country on #COVID19 : matter-of-fact explanations of why there’s no clear answer. pic.twitter.com/eVfxoAwsAG
— Ian Hanomansing (@ianhanomansing) April 27, 2020
Stage 1 – Reopen some places
Stage 2 – Reopen a little more
Stage 3 – Reopen some more
— andreaholmesca (@andreaholmesca) April 27, 2020
Click here for the full government report on reopening Ontario’s economy.