A large swath of Ontario will move to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan on July 17, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now. The province’s plan will allow for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds — albeit with significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and Plexiglas barriers.

Highlights of Stage 3:

  • Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed with physical distancing for anyone outside of your social circle
  • Work colleagues, including performers and crews, do not count toward gathering limits
  • Indoor restaurants, bars, cinemas and outdoor playgrounds can open
  • Gathering inside for religious services, weddings or funerals can continue to fill up to 30% of a room’s capacity
  • Sport facilities and gyms can reopen but notes that physical distancing still must be maintained, “except if playing a team sport or as needed for personal training”
  • Amusement parks and water parks are not being allowed to reopen yet

The following public health units will remain in Stage 2 for the time being:

  • 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
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

“These regions entered Stage 2 later on, so we need just a little more time,” Doug Ford said. “I want the people in these regions to know we won’t leave anyone behind.” Ford suggested those regions could open up as early as July 24, so long as new cases of coronavirus stay steadily low and Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, gives him the green light.

Health measures still in place in Stage 3

On July 13 Health Minister Christine Elliott said that health measures such as wearing face coverings, hand washing and physical distancing remain key to ensuring that Ontarians can “safely enjoy the loosening of restrictions. “We expect the province will remain in Stage 3 for the foreseeable future,” Elliott said. 

She also said that health officials will be monitoring for any COVID-19 outbreaks and can tighten restrictions if there are flare-ups. Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said on July 13 that he is hoping the entire province will be able to be in Stage 3 by the end of July.

Elliott also said social circles for people in Ontario will remain capped at 10 for now. The province can gradually expand them, but “just not right yet,” she said.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Ontario is in a “strong position” to reopen right now, especially compared to areas in some other countries being hard hit by COVID-19. “We’re in this position because we have made the choice to act responsibly and treat each other with respect,” he said. He said that respect is key in Stage 3 to “avoid taking a step backwards.”

Education and Child Care

During the same briefing, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said as of July 27, all child-care centres across Ontario can open with up to 15 kids per room. According to Lecce  that should enable them to be at 90% per cent capacity, meaning more parents can get back to work. He added schools could also reopen for students in September, although that situation remains fluid.

“We will be cautious, methodical and focused on safety to get this right, because keeping your child safe is what matters most,” he said. “I’ll be sharing more details soon about the return to school plan, which I know is top of mind for many parents around the province. We are confident in this plan to enable parents to return to work while having the peace of mind that their children are cared for.”

Learn about what can reopen in each stage and where according to the government’s regional approach.

Source: Toronto Star
Source:  CBC