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On April 27, the provincial government released its Framework for Reopening the Economy.  This document is a high-level overview of the roadmap for the gradual reopening of the provincial economy. 

Both Premier Ford and Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade Minister Victor Fedeli were clear that they are not providing specific dates but rather a ‘roadmap’ for a gradual, staged approach to re-opening.  

Note:  With Ontario’s state of emergency in place until May 12th, it is anticipated that it could take weeks before the province begins to implement its staged re-opening approach.

The question about which workplaces will be able to re-open in the first stage remains.  Certain thresholds such as workplaces that can meet public health/occupational health and safety requirements, or modify their operations for such purposes, will likely fit into this category, but no specific businesses were indicated. 

The framework provides the criteria which Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts will use to advise the provincial government regarding changes to the emergency measures.  Further, it provides:

  • the guiding principles for the gradual reopening of businesses, services, and public spaces,
  • the 3 stage strategy by which the reopening of workplaces and public spaces will occur and public health’s guidelines and requirements which must be followed.
  • Each stage will include a “Hold and Monitor” period of 2 to 4 weeks during which the number of COVID cases will be closely monitored. 

Reopening the economy at each stage will require an ongoing decrease in:

  • new daily COVID-19 cases,
  • new hospital cases, and
  • cases that can’t be traced to a source. 

Any increase in these cases will result in a return to the current state of closures.

The 3 Stages were identified as follows:

  • Stage 1:  Protect and Support: Open select workplaces and allow some small gatherings (i.e. funerals), some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.

    Hold and Monitor:  2 to 4 weeks
  • Stage 2: Restart:  Open more workplaces – this may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces - outdoor spaces and allow some larger, but not large, gatherings.

    Hold and Monitor:  2 to 4 weeks.
  • Stage 3:  Recover:  Relax some additional restrictions on public gatherings and open all workplaces.
    Continued monitoring.

Of note, Premier Ford speculated that he does not think it will be business as usual in the province until a vaccine is available.  However, his hope is that Ontario can get back to “semi-normal” if the curve continues to be flattened and cases (noted above) continue to decrease.

As noted in last week’s newsletter, the provincial has also established a Jobs and Recovery Committee. HRAI will engage with this committee and with Members of Provincial Parliament to provide advice and assistance to help with the restart of the provincial economy.