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Ontario unveils steps to reopen. Here’s what the ‘new normal’ will look like

TORONTO — Ontario has unveiled its three-phase plan to reopen following weeks of shutdown due to the spread of COVID-19.

While no specific dates have been offered up by provincial officials, the plan, dubbed “A Framework for Reopening our Province,” states the parameters of each “gradual stage.”

“This framework provides a roadmap for people and businesses, so they know what to look for as the province moves forward,” a document released on Monday outlining the plan reads.

“Together, Ontario will emerge from this crisis – with a clear path to economic recovery that keeps people safe and healthy.”

PHASE ONE: PROTECT AND SUPPORT

The first of the three phases is already underway. This phase focuses on protecting the health and well-being of individuals and families, as well as supporting frontline health-care workers. It also focuses on emergency orders put in place that shutdown non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities at parks, recreational areas and public places, as well as put restrictions on social gatherings.

Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 is part of this phase. The $17-billion plan was released on March 25.

PHASE TWO: RESTART

This phase is broken down into three stages that provide a “careful approach” to loosening emergency measures and therefore reopening Ontario’s economy, the framework states.

During this phase, the government says public health and workplace safety “will remain the top priority,” while balancing the needs of people and businesses.

Each of the following three stages will be monitored by health officials for two to four weeks.

Stage one: Open select workplaces, allow some small gatherings

  • Businesses that can “immediately meet or modify operations” to meet public health guidance, for example those that can conduct curbside pickup or delivery
  • Opening some outdoor spaces, such as parks, and allowing for “greater number of individuals” to attend some events, such as funerals
  • Hospitals begin to offer some non-urgent surgeries and other health-care services

Stage two: Open more workplaces and outdoor spaces, allow some larger gatherings

  • May include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces

Stage three: Further relax restrictions on public gathers, opening all workplaces

  • Large public gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for “the foreseeable future”

After each two-to-four-week period, health officials may advise to “reapply or tighten certain public health measures,” “maintain status quo,” or “progress to the next stage.”

“This ongoing gradual assessment of public health measures will continue until the post-pandemic period when a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available.”

PHASE THREE: RECOVER

This phase includes Ontario transitioning to its “new normal” and will focus on creating jobs across the province while ensuring that workplaces are following strict health and safety guidelines.

“Remote work arrangement should continue where feasible,” the province states.

Drop in number of cases in Ontario

Last week, provincial health officials presented updated modelling and potential scenarios in the fight against COVID-19. They stated that the wave of new community spread cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario appeared to have peaked, but the spread in long-term care homes and other congregate living facilities seemed to be growing.

The province recorded its lowest number of cases and deaths in a single day since April 13 on Sunday with 437 new cases and 24 more deaths.

Currently, there are more than 14,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 835 deaths and 8,000 recoveries.

This is a developing story. More details to come.

Source Article: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-unveils-steps-to-reopen-here-s-what-the-new-normal-will-look-like-1.4913052