On June 24, the province announced that it would be moving into the second step of the framework on June 30, before the 21-day waiting period expired and in time for Canada Day.
The move to step two was especially good news for non-essential service businesses that could not open in step one, including hair salons, barber shops and nail salons.
Indoor fitness facilities, performing arts facilities, cinemas, casinos and bingo halls, as well as other facilities, must remain closed until Ontario enters step 3.
A complete list of changes and restrictions can be viewed at https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario.
“Obviously all our retailers are enthusiastic with the move to Step 2 of the Re-opening Ontario, but it’s even more important to those businesses who have been closed since the start of the pandemic,” said Rick Clarke, downtown development manager. “Curbside pickup, take out and most recently the limited capacity permitted for non-essential businesses in Step 1 has brought some relief to those that were permitted to open with certain restrictions but now, finally, our personal services such as hair salons, spas, etc., that have been closed since April 7, will finally be able to receive customers. That’s almost 100 days that they have been closed, without any revenue. The amount of debt that they’ve incurred, just to cover their fixed costs and the loss of income for their employees, has been a tremendous hardship. Now we look ahead these next few weeks to get to Step 3 and have everyone….gyms, indoor dining, fitness studios, everyone open. I can’t stress enough the importance of having everyone vaccinated so we don’t experience another lockdown like this one that has had such a devastating impact on our local economy.”
The early reopening was announced as the province released information that public health and health care indicators were continuing to improve and the province-wide vaccination had surpassed the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen. On the recommendation of the chief medical officer of health, the province decided to move up the reopening date by a few days.
In order to enter step two, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses, for at least two weeks, ensuring a strong level of protection against COVID-19. As of June 23, over 76 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 18 and over had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 29 per cent had received their second dose. More than 13.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered province-wide.
Before entering step two, the province also needed to see continued improvement in key public health and health care indicators, including hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and the weekly cases incidence rates. After entering step one, during the period of June 11 to 17, the provincial case rate decreased by 24.6 per cent. On June 22, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs was 305, including 10 patients from Manitoba, as compared to 450 the two weeks prior.
While the province has surpassed Step Three vaccination targets, Ontario may remain in step two for a period of approximately 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to step two on key public health and health care indicators. When it is determined to be safe, the province will promptly move to step three of the roadmap to reopen.
“Due to the continued commitment of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and going out to get vaccinated, we have seen our key health indicators continue to improve across the province,” said Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health. “While we can now begin preparing to ease public health measures under the Roadmap, the fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must continue adhering to the public health advice and measures currently in place to maintain this great progress.”
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent