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COVID-19: A Framework for Reopening Ontario

On April 27th the Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria used on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

Of-course the top priority will remain the protection of the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline staff to ensure that there is no recurrence or spikes in infection rates and that all workers continue to remain safe as the province re-opens.

Ontario will gradually reopen all workplaces and public spaces following these stages while ensuring continued protections for vulnerable populations and continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing, respiratory hygiene and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

Stage 1: Open select workplaces, allow some small gatherings.
Stage 2: Open more workplaces and outdoor spaces, allow some larger gatherings.
Stage 3: Further relax the restrictions on public gatherings, opening all workplaces responsibly.

To reopen the provincial economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

Some of the advice that the province is providing to businesses most of which is already in place in some manner or other is:

For Retail:

  • Provide online ordering, delivery, or curbside pickup.
  • Eliminate at-the-door payment methods for delivery.
  • Provide training on how to keep cash registers, other equipment clean.
  • Control how may customers can enter the store at one time.
  • Manage traffic flow with floor markings and barriers

For Hotels/ Hospitality/ Tourism:

  • Limit customer contact and consider requiring check-in by phone or online.
  • Eliminate contact greetings such as handshakes.
  • Housekeepers should not shake dirty laundry and should remember to clean and disinfect hampers and other carts.
  • Eliminate non-essential tasks (hotel valet services, face to face meetings).
  • Replace guest buffets with packaged food stations.
  • Eliminate guest self-service, disposable in-room glassware, and non-essential guest room amenities, and remove in-room tea/coffee machines, offering them only on demand

For Office Settings:

  • Discourage sharing of telephones, keyboards, desks or workstations.
  • Develop systems to conduct work away from the office.
  • If direct client contact is essential and cannot be avoided, then staff should consider using personal protective equipment.
  • Provide easy access to soap and water.
  • Postpone non-essential face-to-face appointments or convert to virtual/video appointments.
  • Stagger start times and breaks.
  • Reposition workstations to increase physical distances or install barriers and partitions

For Handling and Receiving Packages (at home and at work):

  • Request contactless delivery.
  • Use your own pen when signing for deliveries.
  • Wash hands immediately after receiving the package.
  • Clean and sanitize table tops, counters and floors where the package was placed.

Download a PDF copy of Ontario’s “A Framework For Re-opening Our Province”

To learn more on how Ontario is planning to reopen businesses, services and public spaces, please visit the province’s A Framework For Reopening Our Province web page.

For information and advice to help your business navigate the economy during COVID-19 please visit the province’s COVID-19: Support for Businesses web page.