Ontario has been one of the hardest hit provinces along with Quebec and British Columbia. With the death toll well into the thousands, the population of Ontario has been rightfully worried about the health of residents. However, concerns around what will be happening to the school year and when business will reopen have started to be answered.
Ontario’s premier Doug Ford has introduced a plan for what the reopening of the province will look like with the help of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ontario Jobs and Recovery committee.
The proposed plan highlights the necessary steps to begin reopening the public space in order to begin the return to normalcy. The objective here is to allow consumers to be outside more often in order to help not only with small businesses desperately in need of consumer business but also the public’s mental health.
The provincial government decided on a phased time-independent approach in order to adapt as the situation develops. The start of Phase I of the reopening plans does not guarantee the start of Phase II. This means that during and after each phase of the plan is executed, a new evaluation will take place to determine if measures should be adjusted, loosened or tightened.
This gradual strategy will allow the province to closely monitor the health of the public and safely reopen businesses, services and public spaces while avoiding a second wave of rampant infection.
Phase 1: Protect and Support
The first phase of the reopening framework aims to inform business owners, workers, and families of the necessary requirements to reopen the environment and restart Ontario’s economy. This stage also includes the flood of targeted support programs with over $17-billion in funding going to businesses in need.
Exact programs for business support can be found here.
Phase 2: Restart
The second phase of the reopening framework launched on May 19, 2020 and is split into three stages.
The first stage involves a limited reopening of businesses and workplaces that are well-positioned to follow public health advice and workplace safety measures. This includes:
- Retail stores with street entrances
- Vehicle dealerships
- Media operations
- Outdoor sports facilities
- Household services
- Veterinary and pet grooming services
These and all other businesses included are still expected to maintain some restriction around the number of people in their facilities and the physical distancing measures previously in place. The exact list of businesses reopening at this stage can be found here.
During the second stage, the best practices and learnings from stage 1 will be factored in and will now include opening more businesses, public spaces, and services to enable more Canadians to return to work.
It is important to note that public health measures, workplace safety guidance and protection for vulnerable people is expected to continue throughout each stage.
The third and last stage of phase 2 would encompass the reopening of all workplaces and public gatherings while still maintaining protections for vulnerable populations.
This gradual phase is expected to take 2-3 months in order to allow things to return to normal in a controlled and safe manner that allows health officials to assess the ongoing pandemic at each stage and make adjustments accordingly.
Phase 3: Recover
The last phase will be executed once the majority of businesses and workplaces are reopened. This is the longest phase as it will include initiatives to create the jobs that were lost while revamping our public health guidelines and infrastructure.
This pandemic has been an eye opening experience to many across Canada and Ontario’s government is set on obtaining significant learnings from it.
It is easy to think that things will never truly be back to what they were pre-COVID but the Canadian population has done well to soldier on through the crisis and the government’s plans are poised to bring the nation back to its feet.