To further stop the spread of COVID-19, Premier Doug Ford, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in place until May 29.

That includes the closure of bars and restaurants — except for takeout and delivery only — restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women's shelters. The government said it's also allowing drive-in religious gatherings.

READ: Ontario Begins Stage 1 of Reopening of Economy Today

This announcement coincides with the province officially entering the first stage of its Framework for Reopening the Province, which includes allowing some businesses and services to reopen to customers as long as health and safety measures are followed.

As part of this initial stage, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks, and recreational areas.

However, outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will still remain closed until later stages of the province's reopening plan.

"Although we are entering the first stage of our framework to reopen the economy, it's critical that we continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner," said Premier Ford in a statement.

"The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus. With warmer weather beginning, individuals and families will now be able to enjoy many outdoor amenities, but everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing from those outside of their household."

To ensure residents stay safe, the premier encourages everyone to maintain physical distancing by staying two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, washing hands regularly, and staying home if they are feeling unwell.

The government has approved an exemption to the emergency order related to gatherings to allow Ontarians to attend drive-in religious gatherings, albeit it under specific conditions aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus. These conditions include keeping vehicles two metres or more apart, only members of the same household will be allowed in the same vehicle, people will not be able to leave their vehicles, and no more than five people can conduct the service at one time from outside a motor vehicle and they must stay at least two metres apart.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 29, 2020. The emergency orders include:

Extending these orders supports the government's plan to cautiously and safely reopen businesses, services and amenities in a way that will enable the province to continue to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.

Ontario News