Ottawa’s mayor calls on province to announce the start date for Step 1 of reopening plan

OTTAWA — Mayor Jim Watson is calling on the Ontario government to announce the opening date for Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Step 1 of the economic reopening plan following the stay-at-home order, restaurant patios can reopen for outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail can open at 15 per cent capacity.

The Ontario government previously said the province expected to enter Step 1 of the roadmap the week of June 14. Last week, Premier Doug Ford suggested he was waiting for advice from the chief medical officer of health about whether the province could enter Step 1 earlier.

“The Premier said June 14, then he said it might be earlier, and then his medical officer of health Dr. (David) Williams said it might be later, so those are three different positions on one issue,” said Watson in an interview on CTV News at Six with Christina Succi.

“I’d like them to come up with one clear answer, ‘what is the date that the economy is going to open in phase one?”

Watson added clarity on the reopening date would allow businesses to prepare to reopen.

“So that restaurants, for instance, can order their food supplies and then they can get their staff on board knowing the exact date when they’re going to be able to open their patios,” said Watson.

“I think that’s a reasonable request, and this game of sort of we think it might open on the 14th, maybe we’ll get a hint it will open earlier, maybe it will be later doesn’t help anyone and confuses most people.”

Dr. Williams told reporters on Thursday that he was concerned about an uptick in new cases at the end of last week, which made the chances of an earlier reopening look “less promising.”

Williams said he would have answers for Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott this coming week about whether Ontario can enter Step 1 before June 14.

Watson says businesses are frustrated with the lack of concrete details.

“The small business community are very concerned that it seems to be a moveable date when we’re going to actually see patios and some stores ready to open,” said Watson.

“A lot of these stores are hanging on by their fingernails, and many instances they’ve actually gone out of business. We need clear direction and consistent messaging from the province and not all of this back and forth, it just does not help anyone.”

Here is a look at what’s allowed to open in Step 1 in Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen:

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining up to four people per table
  • Essential retail at 25 per cent capacity and can sell all goods (including discount and big box)
  • Non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity
  • Retail stores in the mall closed unless the stores have a street-facing entrance
  • Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies with capacity limited to permit two metres’ physical distancing
  • Campsites, campgrounds and short-term rentals
  • Overnight camping at Ontario Parks
  • Outdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites and botanical gardens with capacity limits
  • Outdoor pools and wading pools with capacity limited to permit two metres physical distancing

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