As the daily coronavirus case numbers continue to decrease in Ontario, the province is gearing up to begin Stage 3 of reopening the economy through its regional approach.
As of Friday, July 17, at 12:01 am, the next stage of the Ontario government’s COVID-19 recovery plan across much of the province will begin.
This means that 34 of Ontario’s public health unit regions will move forward to Stage 3 on Friday, excluding the Greater Toronto Area and nine other regions in parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2.
However, at the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, and progress on testing and contact tracing to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3.
Premier Doug Ford said during Stage 3, things like indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows, and movie theatres and playgrounds will be permitted to reopen. Though there will be significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, and Plexiglas barriers.
Here's what can open in Stage 3:
Nearly all businesses and public spaces
Nearly all businesses and public spaces can gradually reopen as regions enter Stage 3, with public health and workplace safety restrictions in place, while some high-risk venues and activities will remain closed until they can safely resume operations.
Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, indoor and outdoor gathering limits will also be increased to as many as 50 people indoors and as many as 100 people outdoors. Physical distancing remains a requirement for all people of Ontario that are not from the same household or social circle.
Places and activities not yet safe to open
The following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Amusement parks and water parks
- Buffet-style food services
- Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment who follow specific requirements
- Overnight stays at camps for children
- Private karaoke rooms
- Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
- Saunas, steam rooms, bathhouses and oxygen bars
- Table games at casinos and gaming establishments
As regions enter Stage 3, the following gathering limits apply:
- Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people, subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles
- Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people, subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles
When do gathering limits apply?
Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts, gathering limits apply to higher risk settings and activities where people congregate, including:
- All organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g., parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions)
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
- Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
- Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
- Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring)
- Movie theatres
- Real estate open houses
- Sporting and racing events
- Tour and guide services (including boat tours)
Indoor gathering limits apply to events that are fully or partially indoors. Indoor events and gatherings cannot be combined with an outdoor event or gathering to increase the applicable gathering size.
People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.
People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services can continue to fill up to 30% of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2.
You can learn more about the province's updated reopening framework here.