Ontario stage one reopening includes stores, surgeries, golf, dog grooming

The Ford government unveiled an expanded list of what can reopen during phase one of the province's plan to get Ontario up and running again. Some, however, warned the rush to reopen businesses should not come at the expense of community safety

By The Canadian Press and news staff

Ontarians will be able to go shopping, play tennis and take their pets to the vet next week, but they should still avoid visiting friends and family, Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday. (full list below)

Tuesday will mark the beginning of the province’s first recovery stage, which also includes the resumption of some surgeries, as the numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario continue to drop.

“We need to keep in mind that all of this is dependent on the numbers,” Ford said.

“The truth is we can’t fully predict where things will go, so we need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases. We cannot let our guard down now. We must watch the trends like a hawk.”

Watch: Health minister asked when restrictions on social gatherings could be lifted

A few measures will be loosened over the weekend. On Saturday, golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can open Saturday, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Although stage one will allow in-store shopping, golf games and for house cleaners and babysitters to work in people’s homes, provincial guidance to stay two metres away from anyone outside people’s immediate household is still in place.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said officials have been discussing the concept of two-household bubbles, as other provinces are using, and Finance Minister Rod Phillips said updates on gatherings, school and child-care centres will come next week.

The health team is also looking closely at current restrictions on religious ceremonies, Elliott said.

All construction can resume Tuesday and limits will be lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting, and pool maintenance.

Most retail stores that have a street entrance can open with physical distancing restrictions, such as limits on the number of customers in a store to one customer per four square metres, only using fitting rooms with doors – not curtains – to allow for better disinfecting, booking appointments and continuing to provide curbside pickup and delivery.

Golf driving ranges and tennis courts will be able to reopen Tuesday, and sports that can be played with physical distancing will be allowed, including water sports on outdoor bodies of water _ no swimming pool sports _ such as rowing and sailing, badminton, track and field, gymnastics, figure skating, fencing, rock climbing, and horse racing.

Individual sports that are high contact still won’t be allowed, including racquetball, squash, boxing, wrestling and martial arts.

As of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with 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.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.


As of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, 2020:


  • All construction to resume and essential workplace limits lifted.
  • Includes land surveyors.


  • In addition to retail operating online, or with curbside pickup and delivery, all retail can open under the following restrictions and guidelines:
  • No indoor malls.
  • Must have a street-front entrance (i.e., stores with dedicated street access/storefront).
  • Open in-store by appointment and/or by limiting the number of people in the store at any one time. Retailers would need to restrict the number of customers per square metre — for example, one customer per 4 square metres (43 square feet) — to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
  • Only fitting rooms with doors would be used, not curtains, to facilitate disinfecting. Retailers would restrict use to every second fitting room at any one time to allow for cleaning after use and ensure physical distancing.
  • For further guidance on this sector, please refer to resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace.


Vehicle dealerships and retailers

  • Vehicle dealerships and retailers, including:
  • New and used car, truck, and motorcycle dealers.
  • Recreational vehicle (RV) dealers (e.g., campers, motor homes, trailers, travel trailers).
  • Boat, watercraft and marine supply dealers.
  • Other vehicle dealers of motorized bicycles, golf carts, scooters, snowmobiles, ATVs, utility trailers, etc.
  • Prior to Stage 1, motor vehicles dealerships were restricted to appointments only.


Media operations

  • Office-based media operations involving equipment that does not allow for remote working. For example:
  • Sound recording, such as production, distribution, publishing, studios.
  • Film and television post-production, film and television animation studios.
  • Publishing: periodical, book, directory, software, video games.
  • Interactive digital media, such as computer systems design and related services (e.g., programming, video game design and development).
  • Media activities that can be completed while working remotely have been encouraged to continue during the Restart phase.
  • Filming or other on-site activities, especially those that require the gathering of workers, performers or others are not permitted to resume in Stage 1.


Scheduled surgeries (public and private facilities)

  • Non-emergency diagnostic imaging and surgeries in public hospitals, private hospitals and independent health facilities, clinics, and private practices to resume based on ability to meet specified pre-conditions including the MOH framework: A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, contains clear criteria that must be met before hospitals can resume scheduled surgeries.
  • Scheduled surgical and procedural work to resume once “Directive #2 for Health Care Providers (Regulated Health Professionals or Persons who operate a Group Practice of Regulated Health Professionals)” is amended or revoked, which relies on hospitals meeting criteria outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19.


Health services

  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.
  • In-person counselling to resume including psychotherapy and other mental health and support services. Some of these services were available in-person for urgent needs. For example:
  • Addiction counselling
  • Crisis intervention
  • Family counselling
  • Offender rehabilitation
  • Palliative care counselling
  • Parenting services
  • Rape crisis centres
  • Refugee services


Community services

  • Libraries for pick-up or delivery.


Outdoor recreational amenities

  • Marinas can resume recreational services.
  • Pools will remain closed.


Individual recreational sports

  • Outdoor recreational sports centres for sports not played in teams will open with limited access to facilities (e.g., no clubhouse, no change rooms, washrooms and emergency aid only). Examples of sports centres include:
  • Tennis courts
  • Rod and gun clubs
  • Cycling tracks (including BMX)
  • Horse riding facilities
  • Indoor rod and gun clubs and indoor golf driving ranges.


Individual sports competitions without spectators

  • Professional and amateur sport activity for individual/single competitors, including training and competition conducted by a recognized Provincial Sport Organization, National Sport Organization, or recognized national Provincial training centres (e.g., Canadian Sport Institute Ontario) with return to play protocols in place and no spectators, except for an accompanying guardian for a person under the age of 18 years.
  • This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played under physical distancing measures. This includes:
  • Water sports on lakes and outdoor bodies of water.
  • Racquet sports such as tennis, ping pong, badminton.
  • Animal-related sports such as dog racing, agility, horse racing.
  • Other sports such as: track and field, car and motorcycle racing, figure skating, fencing, rock climbing, gymnastics, etc.
  • Swimming pools will remain closed. As a result, water-based sports competitions are excluded if not conducted on lakes or outdoor bodies of water.
  • High-contact sports are not allowed even if they are non-team. These include sports where physical distancing cannot be practiced such as:
  • Racquetball, squash, boxing, wrestling sports, martial arts, etc.


Professional services related to research and development

  • Professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in physical, engineering and life sciences including electronics, computers, chemistry, oceanography, geology, mathematics, physics, environmental, medicine, health, biology, botany, biotechnology, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, pharmacy, veterinary and other allied subjects. For example:
  • Agriculture, food research, horticulture or botany, entomological, forestry, livestock, veterinary research and development laboratories.
  • Bacteriological, biotechnology, chemical, nanobiotechnology, pharmacy, genetics, genomics, computational biology, research and development laboratories.
  • Computer and related hardware, electronic, telecommunication research and development services.
  • Geology, oceanographic, pollution research and development, and astronomical observatories.
  • Mathematics research and development.
  • Industrial research and development laboratories.
  • These examples are listed for clarity. Most if not all these services are already permitted under the “Research” section of the List of Essential Workplaces.


Emissions inspection facilities

  • All emissions inspection facilities for heavy diesel commercial motor vehicles, including mobile inspection facilities.


Veterinary services

  • Veterinary services can resume all services by appointment.


Animal services

  • Pet grooming services.
  • Pet sitting services.
  • Dog walking services.
  • Pet training services.
  • Training and provision of service animals.
  • Effective May 16, 2020, businesses that board animals (e.g., stables) may allow boarders to visit, care for, or ride their animal.


Indoor and outdoor household services

  • Private households could now employ workers on or about the premises in activities primarily concerned with the operation of the household such as:
  • Domestic services: housekeepers, cooks, maids, butlers, personal affairs management, nanny services, babysitters, other domestic personnel, etc.
  • Cleaning and maintenance service: house cleaning, indoor/outdoor painting, window cleaning, pool cleaning, general repairs.



  • General maintenance, and repair services can resume, and are no longer limited to “strictly necessary” maintenance.


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