Ontario reopening: What’s included in stage one


Stage one of Ontario’s reopening plan will include retailers, construction, music studios, scheduled surgeries and animal services, among other businesses.

Premier Doug Ford announced details of the first stage in Ontario’s three-pronged approach to easing coronavirus lockdown measures at his daily press conference today, emphasizing that work places, public services and businesses getting the greenlight can resume if they have health and safety guidelines in place.

“Businesses should open only if they are ready,” Ford said at his daily press conference. “And we need to keep in mind that all of this is dependent on the numbers.”

The plan officially begins on May 19, but some things will reopen in time for the Victoria Day long weekend on May 16. People hoping to hang out with people from other households, eat at restaurants, visit a hair salon or go back to school will have to wait a while longer for good news.

The reopening announcement comes as Ontario reported 258 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest single-day increase since March 29. The province is seeing an overall downward trend in new cases, but if public health indicators do not continue in the right direction, the reopening plan could be put on hold, Ford said.

At the press conference, the government also announced a service to help businesses connect with suppliers of personal protective equipment.

As of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, the following can reopen:

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

Ontario’s first stage of reopening will officially begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The following will be allowed to reopen, assuming public health indicators continue going in the right direction:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can 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
  • Motor vehicle dealerships
  • Music recording, including production, distribution, publishing and studios
  • Interactive digital media, including programming and development
  • Film and television post-production and animation studios
  • Publishing, including newspapers, video games and books
  • Opening non-essential professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in physical, engineering and life sciences, such as biotechnology, agriculture and industrial research and development labs
  • Allowing emissions inspection facilities to conduct heavy vehicle emissions testing
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team 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 can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Essential workplace limits on construction will be lifted, allowing all construction to resume
  • Certain health and medical services, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries depending on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in provincial guidelines; professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.

Ford said Ontarians will have to wait longer for restrictions to lift on gatherings, restaurants and hair salons/barbers, as well as the ability to visit family or people from other households. He also said he couldn’t predict when stage two of the plan would begin, but that it will include easing restrictions on service industries, offices, more outdoor spaces and some public gatherings.

Earlier this month, the province allowed garden centres and nurseries, hardware and safety supply stores, lawn care and landscaping services and no-touch car washes to reopen. Retail with street entrances were also allowed to open for cubside pickup.

Read Ontario’s stage one reopening plan here.



Kevin has worked in journalism for 20 years, first as a general assignment reporter before being sucked into the glamorous life that is arts and entertainment coverage. Kevin now contributes to music, tv, film and culture.

Read more by Kevin Ritchie

May 14, 2020

2:52 PM