Starting today, more people will be returning to work across the province as the Ontario government allows retail stores with a street entrance to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. All retailers should follow available safety guidelines in order to protect staff, consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, provincial parks and conservation reserves will begin opening today with limited access. To start, recreational activities will be restricted to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. People will be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.
Today’s update was provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.
“The reopening of more businesses and provincial parks is a clear sign that we are making progress in our battle against COVID-19,” said Premier Ford. “We are getting more people back to work when safe to do so and laying the groundwork for a full economic recovery. At the same time, we are moving carefully and cautiously to ensure we don’t put people at risk and remain ready to respond to any potential outbreaks or surges in cases.”
“As we see more positive signs on the public health front, the fight for business-owners, for workers and for families continues,” said Minister Phillips. “Our Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee is actively working towards the next important step, which is reopening our province so we can get the people of Ontario back on the job safely. We are all going to have to work together to get our economy growing again. And now more than ever, the Ontario Spirit will ensure we’re successful in these next steps.”
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and its health and safety association partners have now released over 80 sector-specific health and safety guidelines, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. The Ministry of Health has also released a Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces. Business owners should use these guidelines to develop reopening plans that work for their business and protect workers, customers and the general public as the province prepares for the gradual reopening of the economy.
“Throughout this period of uncertainty, businesses and people across Ontario have responded tremendously to help fight this outbreak,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Today, businesses can offer curbside pickup and delivery, if they follow appropriate safety guidelines. This is the next step forward in safely and methodically re-opening our economy, so that we can return to the path of economic prosperity and renewal.”
“Hardworking families and small businesses have shown remarkable resiliency in navigating the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “The guidelines we put in place for deliveries and curbside pickup are helping Ontarians access the things they need, while laying the groundwork for the economic recovery ahead.”
Easing restrictions on retail stores is aligned with the first phase of the government’s Framework for Reopening our Province, Protect and Support, which allows for businesses that can operate safely to do so. The Framework also includes guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, and sets out the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on adjusting or loosening public health measures.
“Together, we have made tremendous progress in our shared battle against COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “There is still work to be done. Each of us needs to keep up the fight by continuing to practise physical distancing, frequent handwashing and staying home when ill. Let’s continue to do our part.”