“We Threw Everything We Had at This Virus” — Ford Says Ontario Ready for Stage 1 of Economic Restart

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces that Ontario is ready to begin restarting its economy. Photo: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced today that stage one of his plan to reopen the province’s economy is set to begin on May 19.

At a press conference today, a confident Ford lauded the “collective efforts” of all Ontarians, saying that their diligent adherence to public health measures has paid huge dividends in combatting COVID-19.

“We had to put things on hold, we had to cope with the new normal, we had to make great personal sacrifices, and we did,” said Ford. “Ontario stepped up. We threw everything we had at this virus. We’re taking the legs out from under it.”

“We’re getting thousands of people back to work, we’ve laid a solid foundation for our economic reopening and recovery,” said the premier, noting that as of May 16, all private parks and campgrounds, marinas and boat clubs, and golf courses would be allowed to reopen.

And starting May 19, Ford said the following businesses and services can once again resume operations, but with strict social distancing measures in place:

  • all construction
  • all retail stores with street entrances (not those located in shopping malls)
  • seasonal venues, including outdoor sports fields, tennis courts and off-leash dog parks; vets and other pet services, such as pet grooming by appointment only
  • animal shelters
  • household services, such as cleaning and maintenance
  • certain health and medical services, including scheduled surgeries and in-person counselling

Ford claimed he’s confident with the timing of this partial economic reopening because the province has achieved certain public health goals, including a consistent decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases, sufficient critical care capacity in hospitals, an increase in the number of tests administered and the development and release of workplace safety guidelines.

But he stressed that just because the economy is starting up again, life hasn’t returned to normal. “We cannot let our guard down now, we must watch the trends like a hawk. And we need to remember, as we ramp up more and more daily testing, as we get more and more people back to work, the risk of flare-ups is real. So we need to stay vigilant.”

While Ford was in an optimistic mood today, the province’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams expressed reservations about plunging ahead into this phase.

“We haven’t had all those things come together where we say, ‘Now we’re ready to enter Stage 1,'” he said earlier this week. “I think we’re getting closer but if it was already there, I would have already recommended it.”