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Ontario stage one reopening includes stores, surgeries, tennis, dog grooming


TORONTO — Ontario is set to enter its first stage of reopening next Tuesday including lifting restrictions on retail stores, golf driving ranges and tennis courts, surgeries and dog grooming.

In a document released today, the province says Ontario can now gradually begin to open workplaces, but working from home should continue as much as possible.

All construction can resume and limits will be lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting, and pool maintenance.

Most retail stores that have a street entrance can open with physical distancing restrictions, such as limits on the number of customers in a store, booking appointments and continuing to provide curbside pickup and delivery.

Golf driving ranges will be able to reopen, and sports that can be played with physical distancing will be allowed, including tennis, track and field, gymnastics, figure skating, and horse racing.

Some scheduled surgeries will restart, as well as in-person counselling such as psychology or addictions counselling. 

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Ontario reported 258 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 33 more deaths.

That brings Ontario to a total of 21,494 cases, which is a 1.2 per cent increase over the previous day — the lowest growth rate since early March. The number of new cases is the lowest since late March.

The total includes 1,798 deaths and 16,204 cases that have been resolved, which is now more than 75 per cent of the total.

Hospitalizations increased, though the numbers of people in intensive care and on ventilators decreased.

Nearly 17,500 tests for COVID-19 were completed in the previous day, as the province works toward a goal of processing 20,000 per day.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams is set to release expanded COVID-19 testing guidelines Thursday, which will say anyone with symptoms can be tested.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that doing so "will help identify and contain new cases and monitor any shifts in community spread to keep Ontarians safe."

She said nearly every long-term care home resident and worker has now been tested, so testing will expand to other vulnerable populations, including people in retirement homes, shelters and group homes.

Previous testing guidelines relied on "clinical assessments" of patients, while also prioritizing certain groups such as front-line workers, people in long-term care, and essential workers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2020.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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