Doors open for some retail businesses, construction resumes

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Thamesville’s downtown is eerily quiet on a COVID-19 evening. That could soon change, as Ontario is allowing more businesses to open.

The Chatham Voice StaffAll retail stores with a street entrance can now provide curbside pick up and delivery. In-store payments and purchases will also be allowed at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.

The government of Ontario made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

As early as Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies.

Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 9.

On Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements.

“It’s due to the progress we have made collectively to slow the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to see a gradual easing of restrictions, allowing certain businesses to reopen safely,” said Vic Fedeli, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “During this period, we must move cautiously and strike the right balance between getting people back to work and preventing further outbreaks. Protecting the safety of staff, customers and the general public is our number one priority.”

The government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. 

Businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines, such as promoting physical distancing and frequent handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, installing physical barriers, staggering shifts, and using contactless payment options to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has released over 60 sector-specific health and safety guidelines, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. 

“Small businesses across Ontario have done their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I encourage all business owners to learn the new health and safety guidelines, so when it comes time to reopen you will be prepared to hit the ground running and provide the services we all count on every day.”

The government’s Framework for Reopening our Province, released on April 27 includes guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, and the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of public health measures, including emergency orders.

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