Prime Minister Doug Ford said that with the numbers going in the right direction, the government is working tirelessly to ensure that the restrictions can be lifted safely.
“Any reopening of our economy will be gradual, measured and safe,” he said. “When it comes to reopening our economy, I would rather be safe than sorry. “
All retail stores with street entry will be allowed to open on Monday, May 11 to ensure curbside pickup and delivery. Garden centers and nurseries – which had been authorized to open this Monday for collection or curbside delivery only – will be authorized to open their stores on Friday. Hardware stores and security supply stores can do the same starting on Saturday.
Companies that can now open their doors to customers will have to follow the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies, in particular by promoting physical distance and frequent hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, installing physical barriers, shifting shifts and offering contactless payment.
The province is not yet about to enter the first stage of its reopening framework, which – in addition to allowing the reopening of workplaces that can change operations – would see the opening of parks, allowing more people at certain events such as funerals and the resumption of elective surgery by hospitals.
Before Ontario can happen, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is looking for a steady two to four week drop in the number of new cases.
Ontario also extended emergency orders on Wednesday, which include the continued closure of non-essential businesses, with the province reporting 412 new COVID-19 cases and 68 additional deaths.
The province also renewed lower electricity rates for residential consumers, farms and small businesses until the end of the month. A first order from March for off-peak rates to be billed all day was to expire this week.
Emergency orders, which were scheduled to expire on Wednesday, have now been extended by two weeks until May 19.
They also include the prohibition of public gatherings of more than five people, the closure of bars and restaurants, except take-out and deliveries, libraries, theaters and concert halls, outdoor equipment such as playgrounds and daycare centers.
The province has announced separately that state-funded schools will be closed until May 31 at least.
Ontario’s comprehensive declaration of the state of emergency was extended last month until May 12.
In the meantime, the LCBO has announced that it is increasing store hours that had been reduced in March, rolling out opening and closing hours in stages until they apply to all stores during the first week of June.
Ontario recorded 18,722 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 1,429 deaths and 13,222 resolved deaths, more than 70% of all cases.
The new case total represents an increase of 2.3% from Tuesday’s total, which represents a relatively stable growth rate over the past few days.
The number of people in hospital and intensive care units declined on Wednesday – 1,032 and 219 respectively – but the number of people on respirators went from 166 to 174.
Less than 13,000 tests were done the day before, although the province had announced it would perform 16,000 tests a day.
Premier Doug Ford severely scolded half of Ontario’s regional medical officers on Tuesday, blaming them for low screening rates. The government previously promised to run 18,900 tests a day in mid-April.
In long-term care, 71 additional deaths were reported on Wednesday for a total of 1,074. Information comes from a database separate from provincial totals, where there is often a lag.