More restrictions on Ontario's economy are going to be lifted in the coming days.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford provided details on the province's re-opening from some COVID-19 restrictions in a press conference Thursday afternoon, with many services allowed to resume Saturday and the first stage of the broader re-opening plan beginning on Tuesday, May 19.
Ford says on Saturday marinas and boat clubs, golf courses and businesses that board animals will be allowed to open. Private parks and campgrounds can also open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and vehicles whose owners have a full season contract, according to a government release.
Next Tuesday, May 19, Ford says Ontario will enter Stage 1 of re-opening the province. Retail stores with street entrances that are not located in shopping malls can re-open to customers with strict physical distancing measures in place, while restrictions will be lifted on certain seasonal venues including outdoor sports fields, tennis courts and off-leash dog parks.
Access to rental camping services at a private campground or park is permissible in Stage 1 if the trailer or RV hooks up to electric and water services, and the rental period is for the full season, according to a spokesperson from the Premier’s office.
Other businesses and services the Premier detailed that can be re-open May 19 include: veteranarians, pet grooming by appointment only, animal shelters, household services such as cleaning and maintenance, and certain health and medical services including scheduled surgeries and in-person counselling.
Essential construction limits will also be lifted to allow all construction to resume.
The Premier cautions, however, businesses should open only if they are ready.
"We need to keep in mind, all of this is dependent on the numbers," Ford says. "The truth is we can't fully predict where things will go. We need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases. We cannot let our guard down now. We must watch the trends like a hawk. And we need to remember as we ramp up more daily testing, as we get more and more people back to work, the risk of flare-ups is real."
"So we need to stay vigilant," continues Ford. "We can't take our progress for granted. We can't ignore the health advice. We need to be ready to respond. And we will be ready."
Ontario's framework for re-opening the economy includes three stages. Ford would not give a timeline as to when the province will reach the second phase.
The framework provided previously by the Ontario government says factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 will be considered and the ability to implement protective and preventative measures in the work place. A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily cases are among the considerations before proceeding to the next stage of re-opening.
Stage 2 of the province's re-opening plan includes allow more workplaces with significant mitigation plans, more public spaces and allowing some larger public gatherings.
The final stage will include opening all workplaces responsibly and relaxing public gatherings restrictions.
Protections for vulnerable populations will be maintained throughout the re-opening process, according to the Ontario government's framework.
*This story was updated from an earlier version to clarify the province's direction with respect to re-opening campgrounds and private parks. It previously directly quoted Premier Doug Ford who said in a Thursday press conference "This Saturday, at 12:01 a.m., private parks and campgrounds, marinas and boat clubs, golf courses and businesses that board animals will be allowed to open". A spokesperson from Ford's office advised the opening of private parks and campgrounds is limited to enable preparation for the season.