Additional construction projects permitted to reopen on May 4, under strict safety guidelines

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The city of Kingston was one of the first municipalities to declare it will be resuming work on all municipal construction projects, just hours after Premier Doug Ford expanded on May 4 the list of essential construction projects that are able to proceed during state of emergency.

“While certain construction projects, like the Third Crossing, had been allowed to continue, this announcement means we can move ahead on important projects like the Kingston East Community Centre,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson.

“We will ensure that physical distancing, hand-hygiene and other safety precautions are in place at these sites – safety is paramount – but overall this is good news for our community as we take steps to reopen and get our economy up and running.”

Under the revised emergency regulations, the province allowed the following essential construction projects to resume:

  • shipping and logistics
  • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure
  • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services
  • municipal projects
  • colleges and universities
  • childcare centres
  • schools
  • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development

The Ontario government also allowed certain businesses and workplaces to reopen “as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak”. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.

The May 1 announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided general recommendations on how the openings of businesses and workplaces could be implemented to support safe operations, including strict adherence to health and safety requirements.

“We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment,” said Premier Ford. “While further reductions in the spread are needed before we can begin reopening the province, we have the right framework and the right workplace guidelines in place to do so gradually and safely.”

The government, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 sector-specific guidelines to help employers prepare workplaces “so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected.”

“Ontario workers and businesses have shown exemplary cooperation and resilience throughout the course of this crisis,” said Minister Fedeli. “We’re beginning to ease restrictions on select businesses as we carefully and methodically re-open Ontario’s economy and continue together on our path to renewed prosperity.”

On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

While the government remains in Phase One of Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19, Protect and Support, allowing certain businesses and workplaces to open under strict guidelines demonstrates the government’s commitment to balance the needs of the economy with the health and safety of the people of Ontario.

The response is “based on the current status of the outbreak in our province, and on what makes sense for Ontario.

“To be clear ― we haven’t moved into the reopening phase of our response to COVID-19. Not yet. But based on the best public health advice available to us, we are a step closer.”

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