As Ontario reopens, consider wearing a mask

By MPP Toby Barrett

The incremental reopening of the Province of Ontario is based on the confidence that people in Ontario will up their game as far as following health and safety measures during these dangerous times.

Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Health recommended the use of face coverings when physical distancing and keeping apart is a challenge or not possible.

Of course, the best way to stop the spread of coronavirus is to stay home and avoid any close contact with outsiders.

However, warm weather is here, many more businesses and public spaces have been allowed to open up, and the risk of contagion is now elevated.

Thus, the advice to wear a cloth masks when near others –reserving the use of medical masks for health care workers and first responders.

During the past several weeks we have all made sacrifices as society witnessed the unthinkable – the shutdown of businesses and our economy. We have now charted a path to a phased reopening; we have developed workplace safety guidelines; and continue consulting with workers and businesses.

The government and health and safety associations have released 90 health and safety guidance documents to protect workers, customers and the general public – all backed by enhanced Ministry of Labour inspectors. Ontario has also launched a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory of businesses providing protective equipment.

As many will know, stores can reopen. In addition to retail operating online, or with curbside pickup and delivery, all retail with a separate front entrance can open – indoor malls remain closed. Retailers must restrict customers to physical distancing and/or business by appointment. Fitting rooms must have doors to facilitate disinfecting.

Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.

Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles where owners have a full season contract.

Golf courses are open with clubhouses open only for washrooms, and restaurants are only open for takeout.

Veterinarians can now resume all services by appointment. Pet grooming, pet training, pet sitting and dog walking services can start up again. Stables and businesses that board animals may now allow people to visit, care or ride an animal.

Private households are now allowed to employ people for painting, cleaning, maintenance and general repairs.

Business owners are advised to review the list of services which are authorized to reopen, determine whether they fit into any of the categories and, if they do, make a business decision as to whether to resume operations.

To find out what else is open go to If you have questions about what will be open, or impact your business or employment, call the Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Local municipalities may enact additional rules, which may exceed that of the province. Contact the local medical officer of health for advice, recommendation and instruction. Provincial inspectors, local police services, and municipal bylaw enforcement officers do the enforcement of various rules.

As Ontario reopens, consider wearing a mask especially if physical distancing is not possible – it can only help mitigate the risk inherent in striking a balance between lives and livelihoods.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk