Ontario Province Tables Plan For Reopening Economy
The Ontario government has released a Framework For Reopening Our Province calling for a gradual, stage-by-stage reopening of its economy measured in weeks and months.
The strategy, announced at a news conference headed by Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Rod Phillips, features no set dates and calls for two to four week stages.
At each stage, the government will assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to adjust course to maintain public health.
"Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our front line heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus," Ford said.
"At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy," he said. "This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery."
The three-stage approach begins with the Stage 1 opening of select workplaces capable of 'modifying operations to meet public health guidance'.
Some parks would also be opened and a greater number of people would be allowed to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer non-urgent and scheduled surgeries.
In Stage 2, more businesses would be opened, including some service industries and additional office and retail. More, larger public gatherings would also be allowed.
At Stage 3, all workplaces would be opened.
"Recent public health indicators show us that we're beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery," Phillips said.
"Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shutdown is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk."
In reopening the economy, the government said it will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of the virus and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria.
That will include a consistent two-to-four week decrease in new daily coronavirus cases, sufficient acute and critical care capacity, and ongoing testing of suspected cases to detect new outbreaks more quickly.