Province Unveils Industry-Specific Guidelines for Businesses to Reopen

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As we enter into a new month, the provincial government says the “curve is flattening” for COVID-19 cases in Ontario, which is why Premier Doug Ford says businesses and parts of the economy should “get ready” to reopen.

During his COVID briefing on Thursday, Premier Ford said thanks to everyone’s collective efforts, the province is now on the path to reopening the economy.

In preparation, the province released over 60 new guidelines that were developed by Ontario’s health and safety associations for employers and businesses in different sectors such as retail, health care, construction, transportation, police services, firefighters, and transit employees.

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“We all want to reopen our businesses, services, and favourite places across the province, but we must do it in a safe and responsible way,” said Premier Ford on Thursday. “That’s why we are providing clear guidelines to employers, with practical measures to help them keep staff and customers safe while preventing the spread of COVID-19. By taking these steps, we will be prepared to get people back to work when the time is right.”

And while there are still no dates yet for restarting the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford said the numbers are encouraging.

According to the provincial government, the industry-specific guidelines feature recommended actions that employers can begin to plan for as they prepare to adapt to the new reality during COVID-19, including:

  • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, like eliminating pay-at-the-door options, holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times, and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow.
  • Changes to the workplace, like installing plexiglass barriers, increasing the air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase airflow, and using boot sanitizing trays.
  • Promoting proper workplace sanitation, providing personal protective equipment, substituting dry dusting with vacuuming, ensuring customer-facing staff are given hand sanitizer, providing a place to dispose of sanitizing wipes, and enforcing handwashing before and after breaks.

The guidelines are for sectors such as construction, transportation, utilities, healthcare, transit, police services, fire services, mining, forestry, retail, food retail, general, office, funeral, hospitality, tourism, maintenance, manufacturing, agriculture, film/TV, and auto. People in all sectors will be advised to stay home if they are unwell, wash their hands frequently, and institute cleaning procedures.

The government says it will be working with Ontario’s health and safety associations to bring forward additional workplace safety guidelines for more sectors in the coming days and weeks.

Additionally, starting this week, the government says 58 new inspectors will join the hundreds of existing provincial labour inspectors on the ground. The inspectors, which include workers from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), will be tasked with communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces or enforcing emergency measures, including physical distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses.

“Protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians during the COVID-19 outbreak has been and will always be our government’s number one priority,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“These guidelines will help employers begin to plan for their safe reopening based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and in alignment with our framework to ease public health measures and restart our economy. In doing so, we can ensure we continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep workers safe.”

This comes as the province reported 459 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 86 more deaths – the largest daily total of fatalities so far.

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