On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced reopening plans for Stage 3 as part of the province’s framework to restart the economy post-COVID. As part of the reopening, 24 of 34 public health units within Ontario will move forward to the next stage as of Friday, July 17 at 12:01 a.m.
The following regions will not move forward as of yet: Toronto Public Health, Durham Region Health Department, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, Halton Region Public Health, Hamilton Public Health Services, Lambton Public Health, Niagara Region Public Health, Peel Public Health, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, York Region Public Health. According to Ford, additional time is required to monitor any impacts and readiness to move to Stage 3, although he promised that the government will keep working until every region reaches the next stage.
“My friends, this is great news. We are moving forward as a province but we can’t stop, we won’t stop until we get every worker in Ontario back to work and back on their feet,” Ford said at a news conference on Monday.
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).
Gathering limits will apply to the following:
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments (although table games will not be allowed)
- Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
- Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
- Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
- Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring)
- Movie theatres
- Real estate open houses
- Sporting and racing events
- Tour and guide services (including boat tours)
People at their workplaces, including performers and crews, will not count towards gathering limits.
Gathering limits for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services will remain the same as in Stage 2 — they can fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of a particular room.
Due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, or challenges maintaining proper sanitation, the following high-risk places and activities have been deemed not yet safe to open:
- amusement parks and water parks
- buffet-style food services
- dancing at restaurants and bars (other than by performers hired by the establishment, following specific requirements)
- overnight stays at camps for children
- private karaoke rooms
- saunas/steam rooms/bath houses/oxygen bars
- prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
Social media reaction to the news has been somewhat mixed.
There is no such thing as safe re-opening until we have a vaccine. Every outing and interaction with persons outside your home is a risk. Calling it safe is an excuse for the uninformed to take more risks and forcing those that can’t like my mother with stage 4 cancer to lockdown
— Rob (@spacecowboyr) July 13, 2020
We have 14M people in Ontario, 3 times the population of B.C. Start reading the news instead of the headlines….with under 1500 active cases we deserve to enter the next phase.
— Nerak (@NerakMu) July 13, 2020
On Friday, most of Ontario enters phase 3 of the Great Reopening.
Pictured below, phase 4. pic.twitter.com/20eQHIForT
— Hikarenger! (@HikerYote) July 13, 2020
As for schooling, Ford said at the press conference that he wants to see every child in Ontario back to school, full-time, this September.
“This is what we’re working towards with the support of our medical officer of health and our local school boards, and I’m confident that we will get there,” the premier noted.
The news comes as the daily COVID-19 case numbers having steadily declined over the last month in Ontario. As of July 12, there were a total of 36,839 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Compared to the previous day, this represents an increase of 116 confirmed cases, an increase of three deaths, and an increase of 129 resolved cases.
Up-to-date information about the Stage 3 status of each region will be available here.