KPA Lawyers – May 1, 2020
Premier Doug Ford is standing by his decision not to set hard dates on reopening Ontario. Ford says that opening too soon could lead to a â€œdisasterâ€ that may result in a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
“I’m not willing to roll the dice,” Ford said. “We’re in a different situation than Saskatchewan and Manitoba and obviously Quebec too.”
“We are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy,” Ford stated on Monday during the press conference releasing details of his Government’s “New phased approach for a safe restart and recovery.”
Ontarioâ€™s Three-Phase Plan
Ontarioâ€™s Response to COVID-19 can be explained in the following three phases:
Phase 1: Protect and Support
The Governmentâ€™s primary focus is on protecting the health of individuals and families, supporting front-line healthcare workers, essential services workers, and local businesses, while also providing immediate support to protect people and jobs.
Emergency orders put in place to protect people include: the closure of non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities in parks, recreational areas and public places, as well as bars and restaurants; restrictions on social gatherings; and limiting staff from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care facility or congregate care setting.
Phase 2: Restart/Reopen
The Government will take a three-step approach within Phase 2 in loosening the emergency measures and re-opening Ontarioâ€™s economy. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they continue to assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak. They will determine if any changes need to be made in order to maintain public health. Examples of criteria for ongoing monitoring of progress and identifying when a change in direction is required include: the Province is to see a consistent two to four week decrease in the daily number of COVID-19 cases, a decrease the rate of cases that cannot be traced to a source and a decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in hospitals.
The initial loosening of the public health measures considered:
Â· For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidelines and occupational health and safety requirements (e.g., curbside pick-up or delivery).
Â· Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allow for a greater number of individuals to attend some events, such as funerals.
Â· Continued protections for vulnerable populations and the practice of physical distancing, handwashing, respiratory hygiene, and significant plans to mitigate health risks. Hospitals will begin to offer some non-urgent scheduled surgeries and other healthcare services.
If Stage One of public health measures is successful, the following will be considered for reopening:
Â· Opening additional workplaces depending on the results of a risk assessment, which may include businesses in the services industry, administrative offices and retail workplaces.
Â· Opening more outdoor spaces and allowing larger public gatherings.
Dependent upon the success of Stage Two, the following will be considered for reopening:
Â· Opening all workplaces responsibly.
Â· Further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings. Large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.
Phase 3: Recover
The Government will partner with businesses and other sectors to lead Ontarioâ€™s economic recovery. The focus will be on creating job opportunities across the Province, while working to restore long-term prosperity for the benefit of every individual and family in Ontario.
As Ontario scales back public health restrictions and economic activity resumes, the Government will continue to use every resource available to support the Provinceâ€™s long-term care facilities in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. It could be some time before Ontario officially allows mass gatherings again, and an entire summer without events such as concerts or festivals.