With daily case counts steadily declining, the Ford government has announced the province will move into Step One of reopening the economy on Friday.
The province says health indicators have improved enough to begin lifting some pandemic restrictions a few days ahead of schedule.
As of 12:01 am on Friday, June 11, limited outdoor dining, outdoor fitness classes, outdoor religious services, and camping can resume under the first step of the province's reopening plan.
Outdoor gatherings and organized public events can have up to 10 people and more retail businesses can open for in-person sales with capacity restrictions.
“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario. As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines.”
In order to safely enter Step One, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 60% of adults with at least one dose for two weeks or longer, ensuring the first dose offers a strong level of protection against COVID-19. As of June 6, at 8 pm, the government says 72% of the 18+ population in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with over 10 million doses now having been administered.
Here are the highlights of what’s allowed under the first phase:
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
- Patios with up to four people at each table
- Retail will begin reopening with a 15% cap for non-essential businesses, 25% for essential retail
- Outdoor religious ceremonies and rite with capacity limits and two-metre physical distancing requirements
- Outdoor sports and training for up to 10 people allowed
- Day camps, campgrounds, Ontario Parks, horse racing, speedways, outdoor pools, zoos, and splash pads allowed
Once 21 days have passed and 70% of adults have received their first vaccination and 20% have been vaccinated with both doses, the province will move into phase two, further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn.
This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15% capacity.
After an additional 21 days, and 70 to 80% of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25% vaccinated with two doses, Ontario will move into phase three.
The third phase will expand access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness, indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.
“While we have reached the point where we can safely move into Step One, now is not the time to get complacent,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must all remain vigilant, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over. By continuing to follow public health advice and measures we can continue to reduce transmission, safeguard health system capacity and save lives.”
This comes as Ontario reported 525 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, as case counts continue to trend downward marking the eighth day in a row it’s below 1,000. The provincial total now stands at 536,607.