The government of Ontario is making plans to re-open the economy. That’s great news and a sigh of relief for a lot of us who are feeling the financial pinch of being months out of work. Not to mention the psychological effects of self-isolation and the huge shift in maintaining our social networks.

Given this new information, however, we need to remind ourselves that when businesses and clinics do reopen, it won’t be business as usual. With the easing up of restrictions on social spaces, businesses and services, it is imperative that we go forward with the utmost caution and applying best practices in infection control and disease prevention. How we handle things. going forward will determine our success or failure in continuing operation, and most importantly, our ability to protect the health and safety of our staff and clients

We Need to Remain Mindful of the Ongoing COVID-19 Threat

We cannot lose sight that COVID-19 transmitted from person to person through close personal contact. This means that if an infected person sneezes or coughs (without protection such as a mask) they can infect others who are nearby. Scientists have determined that COVID-19 can linger in the air for up to three hours.

Additionally, touching a surface that harbours the virus without thoroughly washing your hands can transmit the infection into your body. According to studies, COVID-19 can exist on stainless steel objects for two to three days, plastic surfaces for two to three days and glass for up to four days. The virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has determined that COVID-19 patients are the most infectious when they’re showing symptoms. These include: cough, fever, headache, fatigue, muscle ache, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Experts caution, however, that asymptomatic individuals who are infected with the virus can still pass it on to others. In fact, it’s believed that the spread of the disease across the globe was facilitated by asymptomatic carriers as the incubation period for the disease is 14 days after exposure to the virus.

The government’s plan to reopen the economy

According to the government of Ontario website, the plan is to reopen Ontario gradually. The following 3-stage reopening framework will take into account health and safety first and foremost:

Stage 1 – Reopen certain business and services using guidelines that “meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirement (e.g., curbside pick-up or delivery). It also includes opening outdoor spaces such as parks and allowing people to attend events in small numbers such as funerals. We’re already seeing some aspects of Stage 1 in action.

Stage 2 – If stage 1 goes according to plan and is successful, the government will allow more types of businesses to reopen, such as office and retail locations. Also, the plan will allow larger gatherings and opening public spaces.

Stage 3 – Finally, this stage will focus on opening all workplaces responsibly and “further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings. Large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.”

How to Stay Safe as Ontario Reopens

1. The best way to protect yourself and your family during Stage 1 and Stage 2 is to continue practicing some level of social distancing. This means wearing a mask and keeping a distance of at least six feet between you and others while in public. This applies when shopping at the grocery store or waiting in line to get coffee.

2. Continue practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands regularly and washing clothes that may have come into contact with outside surfaces.

3. Most grocery chains are doing their part to contain the spread of COVID-19. It’s a good idea to frequent stores that rigorously sanitize grocery carts and provide protective gear such as gloves and masks.

4. Once back at work or school, you’ll be advised which public health and safety measures you’ll need to follow for your own and others’ safety. Your cooperation will be very important because your employer or school will be required to follow specific directives and guidelines on COVID-19, including measures that may restrict certain activities.