The Ontario government is moving to the next step of their Roadmap to Reopening Ontario five days ahead of schedule.
The move to Step 3 of the economic reopening plan on July 16 will allow facilities such as restaurants and gyms to resume indoor operations again.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline heroes, and the ongoing commitment of Ontarians to get vaccinated, we have surpassed the targets we set in order to enter Step Three of our Roadmap,” said Premier Doug Ford.
He added vaccination efforts would “not slow down”.
In order to enter Step Three of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 to 80 percent of individuals 18 years of age or older with one dose and 25 percent with two doses for at least two weeks. As of July 10, the numbers show 78 percent of eligible Ontarians over the age of 12 have had at least one dose, while 50 percent are fully vaccinated.
Indoor dining will be permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table; however, physical distancing should still be maintained. Nightclubs, where dance facilities are provided, will also be allowed at 25 percent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people.
Step Three will remain in place for at least 21 days and until 80 percent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose and 75 percent have been fully vaccinated. All public health units must have at least 70 percent of their population fully vaccinated for the province to reopen. Once these thresholds are met, most public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted. Capacity limits and limits on social gatherings will also be lifted at that time.
According to Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, the move to Step 3 of the Reopening Plan does not mean we are out of the woods yet.
“We probably need at least three weeks in Stage 2 before we could consider going to Stage 3,” said Dr. David Colby, prior to Ontario’s announcement of moving to Step 3 ahead of schedule. “If what’s happening in Waterloo and Grey Bruce is any indication, we may be in Stage 2 for quite a while.”
Colby said it’s a new ball game with the Delta variant, adding it is much more transmissible.
Here is a list of what will open as the province enters Step 3 of the reopening plan:
• Limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
• Indoor religious services or ceremonies will be limited to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distancing.
• Retail and both indoor and outdoor dining will also be limited to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distancing.
• Food and drink establishments with dance floors with indoor capacity will be limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres with a maximum capacity of 50 percent indoors and 50 percent outdoors.
• Personal care services can host as many patrons as they can while maintaining 2m physical distancing and will now be permitted to offer services that require the removal of a face covering.
• Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities will reopen with capacity limited to 50 percent indoors, spectators limited to 50 percent of the indoor seating capacity for up to 1000 people, and 50 percent of the outdoor seating capacity up to 10,000 people.
• Sports will be permitted without restrictions on contact.
• Cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, water parks, and gardens will be permitted to operate with capacity limited to 50 percent indoors and 50 percent outdoors, amid additional restrictions.
• Casinos will reopen, although limited to 50 percent capacity.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News