Ontario will allow some businesses to reopen on May 4.
Premier Doug Ford says today that some businesses that can comply with safety rules that allow staff and customers to maintain physical distancing will be allowed to reopen.
Many of the businesses are seasonal, including garden centres with curbside pick-ups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes.
Ford says auto dealerships can reopen but by appointment only, and marinas and golf courses can prepare to reopen.
The premier says the reopening follows the advice of the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Ford says he believes in the near future the province will be able to announce additional businesses can reopen.
Ontario reported 421 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and 39 more deaths, while the growth rate of cases moved slightly lower.
The province has now seen 16,608 cases, an increase of 2.6 per cent over the previous day. That’s down from the 2.9 per cent growth rate on Thursday, as the province looks for a consistent two-to-four weeks of declines before starting to reopen the economy.
The new data Friday includes 1,121 deaths and 10,825 resolved cases.
The number of tests performed over the past 24 hours jumped by 3,604, to 16,532 tests completed. Another 11,859 were listed as under investigation.
That increase comes after the province pledged to reach 14,000 test per day by Wednesday, but fell short of that deadline.
The government had previously promised to reach 18,900 tests a day by mid-April. Figures on COVID-19’s impact in long-term care homes, which come from a separate database than the provincial numbers, show 26 more residents of those facilities died in the past day.
There are now outbreaks at 166 long-term care homes, up from 163 on Thursday.
Hospitalizations are up from 999 people to 1,017, though the numbers of people in intensive care and on ventilators declined for a fifth straight day.
On Friday morning, the head of Ontario’s Chamber of Commerce called on the federal and provincial governments to place a moratorium on commercial evictions.
Rocco Rossi said while a previously announced federal program to provide some rent assistance to small businesses is a good first step, more urgent action is required.
“The challenge faced by small businesses today is immediate,” Rossi said in a statement. “It is good that help is on the way, but for an increasingly large number of small businesses, the time they are being asked to wait will result in permanent closure.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2020.
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press