Ontario moving to Step 3 of reopening next Friday

The move comes a week earlier than expected

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Ontario will enter Step Three of the reopening plan — hello movie theatres, gyms and indoor restaurant dining — at 12:01 a.m. next Friday, five days earlier than expected.

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Premier Doug Ford credited the efforts of frontline workers and the willingness of Ontarians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I just encourage everyone, please get vaccinated because that’s the reason we’re able to move this forward,” Ford said Friday.

“This isn’t over by any means — we still have a good battle on our hands — so let’s not be out there doing the victory lap whatsoever.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said there is no Step Four.

Instead, the province will relax most public health measures once it achieves key vaccination targets — 80% of the eligible population with at least one dose, 75% fully vaccinated including at least 70% in every region of the province.

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Rules around mandatory masking and physical distancing will be reviewed, he said.

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“As for the fall, we don’t anticipate providing any regulatory requirement to wear masks if we can keep COVID-19 under control,” Moore said.

“It will be my advice, my personal advice as the Chief Medical Officer Health, to continue wearing a mask. I’ll certainly wear one on the subway, on a bus, on the train, throughout this winter to limit my ability to transmit the virus.”

If exposed to COVID-19, roughly five to 10% of people who are vaccinated could get symptoms while 20 to 30% could carry the virus in their nose, he said.

While the province is moving to Step Three, individual medical officers of health can choose to delay the reopenings, Moore said.

“I want to be very clear — all of Ontario is opening on (July) 16th, but some regions that are current hotspots have the opportunity to hold their communities back if necessary based on their current review of their data,” he said.

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The early reopening move comes after the province exceeded vaccination thresholds for Step Three and as case counts continue to trend downwards.

The province reported 183 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths Friday.

There are now fewer than 200 Ontarians in intensive care due to COVID-19 and 143 on ventilators.

Hot spots Toronto, Peel and York recorded just 53 new cases in total.

The delta variant hot spot of Waterloo saw 50 more cases.

Moore said the province has six reported cases of the new variant of concern (VOC) called Lambda.

Roadmap to Reopen — Step Three

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events up to 100 people with limited exceptions
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events up to 25 people
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, with physical distancing
  • Indoor dining with no limits on number of customers per table with physical distancing and other restrictions
  • Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25% capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people, whichever is less
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities subject to a maximum 50% capacity of the indoor space; capacity for indoor spectators is 50% of usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less; capacity for outdoor spectators is 75% of usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces with physical distancing and other restrictions and capacity limited to not over 50% capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less
  • Essential and non-essential retail with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
  • Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not over 50% capacity indoors and 75% outdoors
  • Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at up to 50% capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events, whichever is less; and up to 75% capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events, whichever is less; and up to 75% capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating, whichever is less
  • Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres

aartuso@postmedia.com

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