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The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force until May 29, 2020. That includes the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women's shelters. The government is also allowing drive-in religious gatherings.

Today, the province officially enters the first stage of its Framework for Reopening the Province. As part of this initial stage, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas, effective as of Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will remain closed until later stages of the province's reopening plan.

"Although we are entering the first stage of our framework to reopen the economy, it's critical that we continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner," said Premier Ford. "The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus. With warmer weather beginning, individuals and families will now be able to enjoy many outdoor amenities, but everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing from those outside of their household."

To ensure that individuals and families have safe access to outdoor spaces, it is critical they take everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus, such as maintaining physical distancing by staying two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, washing hands regularly, and staying home if feeling unwell.

"It's never been more important for people to continue following the public health measures and advice we've laid out, so we don't undo the tremendous progress we've made to contain COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "While reopening parks and other outdoor spaces is important for our physical and mental health, we're encouraging people to be responsible by keeping a safe distance of at least two metres from members outside of their household."

In addition, the government has approved an exemption to the emergency order related to gatherings to allow Ontarians to attend drive-in religious gatherings, under certain conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The conditions include keeping vehicles two metres or more apart, only members of the same household can be in one vehicle, people will not be able to leave their vehicles, and no more than five people can conduct the service at one time from outside a motor vehicle and they must stay at least two metres apart.

"Our government recognizes the importance that Ontarians place on participating in religious services," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "We continue to take a measured approach to reopening our province and this exemption is another important step forward in that process."

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 29, 2020. The emergency orders include:

Closure of Establishments
Prohibiting Organized Public Events, Certain Gatherings
Work Deployment Measures for Health Care Workers
Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works
Electronic Service
Work Deployment Measures in Long -Term Care Homes
Electricity Price for RPP Consumers
Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses
Traffic Management
Streamlining Requirements for Long-Term Care Homes
Prohibition on Certain Persons Charging Unconscionable Prices for Sales of Necessary Goods
Closure of Outdoor Recreational Amenities
Enforcement of Orders
Work Deployment Measures for Boards of Health
Work Deployment Measures in Retirement Homes
Access to COVID-19 Status Information by Specified Persons
Service Agencies Providing Ser vices and Supports to Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Pickup and Delivery of Cannabis
Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney
Use of Force and Firearms in Policing Services
Child Care Fees
Agreements Between Health Service Providers and Retirement Homes
Temporary Health or Residential Facilities
Closure of Public Lands for Recreational Camping
Work Deployment Measures for Service Agencies Providing Violence Against Women Residential Services and Crisis Line Services
Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home
Work Deployment Measures for District Social Services Administration Boards
Deployment of Employees of Service Provider Organizations
Work Deployment Measures for Municipalities
Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home
Work Deployment Measures for Mental Health and Addictions Agencies
Congregate Care Settings
Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record
Global Adjustment for Market Participants and Consumers
Certain Persons Enabled to Issue Medical Certificates of Death
Hospital Credentialing Processes
Education Sector
Management of Long-term Care Homes in Outbreak

Extending these orders supports the government's plan to cautiously and safely reopen businesses, services and amenities in a way that will enable the province to continue to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.

The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was most recently extended on May 12, 2020 and is currently in effect until June 2, 2020.

Ontario is now allowing individuals to attend drive-in religious gatherings so long as they comply with the safeguards listed in the amendment to the emergency order.

Ontario is amending an emergency order to open some outdoor recreational amenities, including: outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields (including baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and frisbee golf locations, tennis, platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts, basketball courts, BMX parks, and skate parks); off-leash dog areas; and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in park and recreational areas.

source: media release, Province of Ontario




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