The province announced today more businesses, including hair salons and restaurants, will be opening up as early as Friday in parts of Ontario, including right here in Chatham-Kent.
As well, more people will be allowed to gather together at one place.
The second stage of reopening the province, as the government calls it, was done in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local health officials, according to a provincial press release.
The government is easing restrictions in communities where it is safe to do so, based on trends of key public health indicators such as lower rates of transmission, increased capacity in hospitals, and progress made in testing.
“We are able to make this announcement today because of the extraordinary effort of our frontline workers and every other person in the province who helped to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Entering Stage 2 means parts of the province will see more people back on the job and an opportunity to get back together with friends and family. Although this is extremely encouraging, I urge everyone to exercise caution and continue to follow public health advice as we are not out of the woods yet.”
Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:
- Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
- Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlors, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
- Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
- Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
- Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
- Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
- Camping at private campgrounds;
- Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
- Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
- Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
- Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.
Also effective Friday, the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2.
Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.
While the Chatham-Kent Public Health unit is on the list of public health unit regions able to move into Stage 2, along with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the Windsor-Essex and Lambton public health unit areas are not.
As more people return to work, the services they rely on will need to be available regardless of the stage a region is in. The province will soon release more details on:
- Child care;
- Summer camps;
- Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
- Training centres; and
- Public transit.
“The health and long-term economic well-being of the people of Ontario has guided every decision we have made in response to COVID-19,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. “The people and employers of Ontario have demonstrated responsible behaviour throughout the global pandemic. I’m confident that will continue in Stage 2 and beyond. Our collective health and the economic recovery of the province depend on it.”
At the beginning of each week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of these regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of the week.
Everyone, regardless of where they live in the province, must continue to follow public health advice, including to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.
The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released more than 100 health and safety guidance documents at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including retail, restaurant and food services and child care ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review these guidance documents and implement appropriate measures to help protect their workers and customers.
“Ontario employers have the information and the tools they need to keep workers safe,” said Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and minister of labour, training and skills development. “That includes safety guidelines, posters and tip sheets to promote safe workplaces and help stop the spread of COVID-19.”