Coronavirus: Ontario set to release ‘sector-specific’ workplace reopening guidelines

The Ontario government will be releasing “sector-specific” labour guidelines later this week to ensure workplaces can reopen safely when the time comes, Premier Doug Ford says.

Ford made the remarks during a press conference on Tuesday just a day after his government released a general reopening plan for the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This framework is the start of the process,” Ford said.

“We’ve already seen positive progress on the criteria we laid out and later this week we’ll be releasing the next step in this process — clear, sector-specific labour guidelines for how businesses can operate safely in this new reality.”

Ford said “well-defined” guidelines are critical to ensure the economy can reopen safely.

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“These criteria and guidelines will be based on the best medical advice and scientific evidence available because in the coming days and weeks, as we move to open more and more parts of the economy, as more and more workplaces open up, having clear safety guidelines in place will be critical to keeping COVID-19 at bay,” he said.

Notably, even the final stage of the plan includes the “continued practice of physical distancing” and “significant mitigation plans” to limit health risks.

The government’s plan helps Ontario transition to a “new normal.” Ford has said that it will not be possible to fully return to normal without a vaccine for COVID-19.

The NDP has called for personal protective equipment to be provided to workplaces that do reopen.

When asked about that Tuesday, Ford said he’s continuing to seek personal protective equipment as much as possible, but didn’t directly address whether or not there would be enough to provide to all opening workplaces.

Meanwhile, the government announced in a statement that a new online portal for businesses seeking temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations has been created in order to remove barriers “hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario’s supply chain.”

“Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to the website,” the statement read.

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