As of Friday July 31, at 12:01 a.m., additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening in Toronto and Peel Region as the Ontario government allows them to move into Stage 3 of their reopening plan.
This decision was based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, such as increased testing, a lower transmission of COVID-19 cases, and ongoing hospital capacity monitoring.
In a press release on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that while more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their “Open for business” signs, they’re still reminding everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly.
“We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols,” Ford noted.
The move will allow Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health to join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020.
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2 as the province continues to address the needs of the region by conducting on-farm testing, mobile testing units, and public health guidance for COVID-positive asymptomatic workers.
The province noted that it is supportive of proposals made by the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health earlier this month relating to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments that are permitted to be open.
Tory said that Toronto moving into Stage 3 is the result of a lot of hard work by Torontonians and frontline workers.
“It seems like a long way from the scary days of the winter when we were having our meetings at the beginning of the pandemic, and hearing numbers that were almost beyond comprehension in terms of both actual case counts, but also projections as to how many people could lose their lives or become ill,” Tory said at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“Now the hard work really begins,” Tory added, noting the importance of people staying vigilant and following public health advice in light of the new freedoms granted by Stage 3. “It’s going to involve continued effort on the part of individual people to make sure that we, together, keep wrestling this thing to the ground and keep it there.”
Today, the province announced that Toronto would be moving to Stage 3 on Friday. This is the right decision and great news for our city. But COVID-19 doesn’t go away in Stage 3. pic.twitter.com/S2Sc7pToZm
— John Tory (@JohnTory) July 29, 2020
Last week Monday, in a letter to Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory provided six recommendations that he says would help protect Toronto from further spread of COVID-19, and would help ensure the city continues to safely reopen. These included:
- Requiring patrons of food and drink establishments to be seated at all times unless entering or exiting, going to the restroom, or paying the bill.
- Operators of food and drink establishments to keep a client log with a name and contact information for one person (minimum) in each party, along with the date, check-in and check-out times, and table number.
- In addition to current capacity limits and food and drink establishments, additional capacity restrictions that limit occupancy should be implemented to ensure that physical distancing can be easily maintained by all patrons.
- Implementing early closure times.
- Requiring food and drink establishments to implement COVID-19 screening protocols for staff (e.g., completion of screening questionnaires) prior to the commencement of their shifts.
- Mandatory face-covering requirements for staff and patrons of food and drink establishments should be clearly outlined.
In Stage 3, more restrictions will be loosened and nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen. This will include reopening most remaining workplaces and community spaces, while gradually lifting restrictions. Public health advice and workplace safety guidance will remain in place and available, but large public gatherings (i.e., concerts, sporting events) will continue to be restricted.
Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people (with physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside one’s household or social circle); outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people (again, subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside one’s household or social circle).
For a full list of what will open (and remain closed) in Stage 3, click here.