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COVID-19: Steps to Recovery - Ontario Permits the Re-opening and Expansion of Certain Businesses and Activities in Time for the Victoria Day Long Weekend

Today, May 14, 2020, shortly before the commencement of the Victoria Day long weekend, Ontario unveiled its plan to permit retailers, seasonal businesses and activities and various other service providers to begin to re-open or expand their services. A link to the Government’s announcement can be found here

Specifically, effective as of 12:01 a.m, on May 16, 2020, the Government will permit the re-opening or expansion of the following activities (and businesses that facilitate those activities) in Ontario:

  • Golf courses, provided clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out;
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use;
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract; and
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

Additionally, following the Victoria Day long weekend, and provided that trends in key public health indicators continue to improve at levels satisfactory to Government and public health officials, the following activities and businesses will be permitted to re-open or expand effective as of 12:01 a.m. on May 19, 2020:

  • Retail businesses that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot;
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing;
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments;
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance;
  • Construction projects will have essential workplace limits lifted; and
  • Certain health and medical services, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions.

At his press conference today, the Premier of Ontario made clear that businesses that operate in these areas are not obligated to re-open and should only do so if confident they can implement and adhere to public health guidelines. The Government’s guidelines are here (here) and there is a tool to assist employers in securing personal protective equipment (see here).

Our team at McCarthy Tétrault continues to closely monitor the updates from governments across Canada as we move towards recovery – our up-to-date tracker of recovery efforts is at our COVID-19 hub here. Businesses are contemplating re-opening should turn their minds to the myriad of considerations relevant to the re-opening of the physical workplace. Our team has outlined many of those considerations in our article here.

This update is part of our continuing efforts to keep employers informed about COVID-19. Check our COVID-19 hub and our McCarthy Tétrault Employer Advisor blog for further updates. If you are an employer and need assistance, please reach out to any member of our National Labour & Employment Team.


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