By Mira Williamson —
Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that Ontario would take a regional approach to reopening with 24 regions of the province — but not all — entering Phase 2 Friday.
For those regions, that means as many gatherings can include as many as 10 people, up from five. Also, more businesses will be allowed to reopen, as long as they follow public health protocols. This includes restaurant and bar patios, salons, shopping malls, tour and guide services, public pools, and libraries.
To some, Ford’s 1 p.m. announcement came as a surprise.
“We were sort of loosely planning for reopening, but yes it did take us by surprise that it’s happening this Friday. I really didn’t expect that it would be this soon,” said Barbara Sweet, CEO of County of Prince Edward County Public Library and Archives, based in Picton, ON.
Sweet said safety measures will include tactics to keep people moving without getting too close, such as one-way aisles, limited number of patrons and not having print newspapers or magazines available for people to read on site.
Since staff leave their desks regularly to help patrons, Sweet said she did not expect the new setup to include plexiglass shields that have become a common site at many open businesses. She did expect staff guidelines to include masks, available hand sanitizer and frequent hand-washing.
The County of Prince Edward Public Library and Archives have been doing curbside pick-up for the last couple of weeks, she said. Sweet anticipates they will be happy the libraries will reopen Friday.
“It’s certainly been a long time since we’ve been able to welcome our patrons,” she said. “I think the fact that they can come and select their own books is going to be a relief for people.”
Ten regions will remain in Phase 1 until it’s safe to proceed: Durham Region Health Department, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, Halton Region Public Health, Hamilton Public Health Services, Lambton Public Health, Niagara Region Public Health, Peel Public Health, Toronto Public Health, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and York Region Public Health.
What’s happening in other provinces?
Across the country, provinces have been reopening at different paces. In Saskatchewan, which has moved into Phase 3, gatherings of up to 15 people are allowed indoors and 30 people outdoors.
In British Columbia, students returned to school part time on June 1 and public gatherings are limited to 50 people. As of Monday, baseball and soccer resumed in Quebec.
Prince Edward Island is allowing indoor dining service again and Newfoundland and Labrador is at what it’s calling “Level 4” of reopening, which allows gatherings of up to 20 and businesses to reopen with restrictions.