Premier Doug Ford is loosening restrictions on businesses and public spaces across Ontario in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
“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,” Ford said earlier today.
Thursday’s decision marks the fourth wave of openings across the province, as part of a gradual three-stage plan to jump-start the economy. The announcement is welcome news to many businesses that have been hamstrung by the mass closures carried out since the province-wide shutdown on Mar. 24.
On Tuesday, May 19, the province will launch stage one of the official framework to reopen. Retail stores with a street entrance will be permitted to open; along with seasonal venues such as outdoor sports fields, tennis courts and off-leash dog parks; vets; household services; construction projects and certain health services.
However, Ford stressed the need to continue to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
“I want to be clear that businesses should open only if they are ready,” Ford said. “We need to keep in mind that all of this is dependent on the numbers. We can’t fully predict where things will go. We need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases.”
Here’s a list of what’s opening in Toronto, now that the province has given the go-ahead.
Golf courses across Ontario will open this weekend. The premier said courses will have to set a gold standard for physical distancing — which could mean limiting the number of people to a golf cart or foregoing them entirely.
“I have a lot of friends that are golfers and they are lobbying hard for this golf … they are giving me every single reason why they should be able to go out there and physically distance … they told me they won’t take carts, they’ll walk,” Ford said in a press conference last week.
Clubhouses will open only for washrooms, while in-house restaurants are only permitted to offer take-out. For many courses, staff have been onsite preparing the grounds since the first wave of openings on May 4.
Private parks and campgrounds may open on Saturday. These areas will be allowed to prepare for the season and grant access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
However, the Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said businesses across Ontario, including campgrounds, will be responsible for ensuring the health and safety of workers. The Minister encouraged businesses to consult the provincial guidelines ahead of opening.
“We have issued more than 90 guidelines for different workplaces,” McNaughton said. “They cover offices, health-care settings, retail stores, construction sites, manufacturing plants, parks and campgrounds and many more.”
Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use starting on Saturday.
Other seasonal venues, including outdoor sports fields and tennis courts will also reopen across the province starting on Tuesday. Individual sports competitions without spectators are also part of stage one. This includes indoor and outdoor sports for individuals that allow for physical distancing measures — such as some water sports, racquet sports, track and field, figure skating, fencing, rock climbing and gymnastics. Swimming pools will remain closed.
Off-leash dog parks
Residents will once again have access to off-leash dog parks across the province as of Saturday. In Toronto, Mayor John Tory told CP24 he was working with the city to get them back up and running as soon as the province gave the okay.
However, the province continues to ban groups of more than five from congregating. Anyone who defies the provincial order could be fined anywhere from $750 to $100,000 and jailed for one year under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Retail shops with a street entrance
Retail stores with a street entrance across the province have been given the green light to reopen on Tuesday. However, malls will remain closed.
Contactless payment options, temporary street parking, physical distancing in lineups and other safety protocols will be put into place to continue to help flatten the curve.
Many retailers had already begun to roll out curbside pickup as of Monday, May 11.
If stores do decide to open, Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli outlined some safety measures retailers should be taking.
“If you look on the website at ontario.ca/covid, you’ll see you can work with two people per four square metres, which is about 40 square feet. Those are the guidelines that are set out … that are absolutely necessary in these retail stores,” Fedeli said.
Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal this Saturday.
Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments will open as of Tuesday.
Household cleaning and maintenance
Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines will resume work on Tuesday. Such services include housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and other maintenance.
In-person health and counselling appointments
Certain health and medical services including scheduled surgeries and in-person counselling will also resume on Tuesday.
For a more extensive list of the province’s stage one openings, click here.