OHS Canada Magazine

Safety remains priority No. 1 as Ontario moves ahead in reopening economy

‘If businesses are not ready to open, do not open’: Ford


Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s good news Thursday included the announcement that more retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers will be permitted to open or expand their services as of May 19 at 12:01 a.m.

The workplaces opening as part of stage one are well-positioned to put workplace safety measures in place and get more people back to work, while not overburdening public transit and other services, according to the government.

Safety is still priority No. 1, said Ford.

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“It’s absolutely critical that we’re vigilant as a province — every single person in the province,” he said. “I want to emphasize again — if businesses are not ready to open, do not open.”

The government will be relentless in its mission to keep workers in this province safe, added Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

“I encourage businesses to wait until they are absolutely ready before opening their doors,” he said. “For all of us, safety should guide every decision we make.”

“Ontario’s labour laws are clear: businesses must protect the health and safety of workers, including against workplace hazards like COVID-19.”

The government also announced additional seasonal services — including golf courses — will be permitted to open in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, as key public health indicators continue to show progress.

The province will be providing an update on school closures and child care early next week.

As soon as 12:01 a.m. on May 16:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on May 19 at 12:01 a.m. and will include:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.
  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions.

If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Full details are available on the government website.