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Ontario to move to step one of reopening this Friday

Beginning 12:01 a.m., Friday, June 11, outdoor social gatherings in Ontario can increase in size, non-essential retail stores and patios can open with limits, and indoor religious services, rites, and ceremonies (limited to 15% capacity) will be permitted as the province moves into step one of its Roadmap to Reopen.

The original plan was for the province to begin step one on June 14, but the province-wide vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health indicators led to the reopening plan to take place a few days earlier than expected.

“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families, and communities across Ontario. 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 will include:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events of up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies (including wedding services and funeral services), capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies (including wedding services and funeral services), up to 15% capacity of the particular room;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table (with exceptions for larger households);
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training, and outdoor individual/team sport training will be permitted (with up to 10 people, among other restrictions);
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate (as long as they are consistent with the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s safety guidelines for COVID-19)
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
  • Concert venues, theatres, and cinemas cam open outdoors for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance, or other performance, with no more than 10 performers (among other restrictions);
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators;
  • Outdoor attractions (e.g., zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens, etc.) permitted, with capacity and other restrictions.

As for schools, school boards (for public and private elementary and high schools) can invite students back for a brief outdoor end-of-year celebration (celebrations will need to meet specific requirements).

Before entering step one of the reopening plan, the province wanted to have 60% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for two weeks or longer. As of Sunday June 6 at 8:00 p.m., 72% of the 18+ population in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 10,109,404 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

The province also wanted to see continued improvement in key public health indicators. From May 25 to 31, 2021, the provincial case rate decreased by 35.1%. As of June 6, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs was 497, as compared to 687 two weeks ago. As of Monday, June 7, Ontario reported 525 cases of COVID-19 with nearly 15,200 tests completed. This includes 114 new cases in Toronto, 95 in Peel, 51 in Waterloo, 40 in Durham, and 34 in York Region.

The province will remain in step one of the reopening plan for at least 21 days. If at the end of the 21 days the province has vaccinated 70% of adults with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20% of adults with two doses—and there are continued improvements in other key public health indicators—the province will move to step two of the reopening.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO