Step One of Ontario reopening to start June 11

·3 min read

TORONTO – Ontario will move into the first step of its three-step reopening "road map" on June 11.

Citing first dose vaccination rates in the province, and decreasing COVID-19 case counts, the government sped up its timetable for reopening. When provincial officials announced the reopening plan in May, the original start date was expected to be June 14.

"The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario," said Premier Doug Ford. "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."

Step One of the reopening plan required 60 per cent of adults to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the government, 72 per cent of Ontarians age 18 and older have.

Other key indicators including daily new infections, hospital capacity and reproduction rates of the virus also show decreasing COVID-19 levels, supporting the resumption of some activities.

Focusing mostly on outdoor activities, entering Step One will mean that non-essential retail can open for in-person, indoor shopping at 15 per cent occupancy. Big box stores can resume selling non-grocery items at 25 per cent capacity.

Outdoor dining of up to four people per table can begin again, no indoor dining is allow until Step Three.

Fitness classes, personal training and sport training is allowed in groups of up to 10 people outdoors with physical distancing restrictions still in place.

Day camps for children can operate following COVID-19 safety protocols.

Transient camping is able to resume at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks and short-term rental units. There was no indication from the St. Lawrence Parks Commission if its transient camping would resume on June 11.

Outdoor attractions like historic sites, gardens and other landmarks can open with capacity restrictions.

The province also said that schools can host outdoor end-of-year celebrations for students, so long as physical distancing and other public health guidance is followed.

Ontario will remain in Step One for a minimum of 21 days before advancing to Step Two. That step will allow hair salons and other personal service businesses to reopen, along with team and league sports. Based on the June 11 entry into Step One, the earliest Step Two can begin is July 2. Step Three, which will allow for in-person indoor dining at restaurants, may begin no earlier than July 23.

"While we have reached the point where we can safely move into Step One, now is not the time to get complacent," said Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. "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."

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader

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