by News Staff and The Canadian Press Posted Jul 9, 2021 10:56 am EDT
The provincial government has confirmed Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan will begin on July 16, five days earlier than expected.
Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent are fully vaccinated, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated.
At that time if public health indicators remain stable, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted including capacity limits and limits on social gatherings.
Indoor dining will be allowed to reopen in Step 3 with no capacity limits, just distancing between tables while gyms, movie theatres, museums and zoos will be at 50 per cent capacity.
Cineplex has announced they will open their doors on July 16 with enhanced safety measures.
Outdoor non-seated events, like concerts, theaters and sports facilities, will be allowed to have up to 5,000 people while seated events will be allowed to have 15,000 attendees. There will be no restrictions on retail stores or personal care services.
Indoor event capacity would be at 50 per cent to a maximum of 1,000 people.
Gatherings and organized public events can be up to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. For religious services and ceremonies, there will be no limit, but social distancing and other measures will be in effect.
Cinemas, museums, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos, bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals will have a capacity of 50 per cent indoors and 75 per cent outdoors.
Face masks in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements will remain in place throughout Step Three.
Premier Doug Ford thanked Ontarians who have been administering and receiving vaccines, saying they’ve helped the province move ahead faster.
“While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all,” he said in a statement announcing the news Friday.
Ontario entered Step 2 early as well on June 30, two days earlier than scheduled, apart from the Waterloo region which is expected to enter Step 2 on Monday.
It allowed personal care services to open and gyms to hold outdoor classes.
The province’s top doctor, who previously maintained he wanted to wait 21 days between reopening stages, said he shifted his position based on positive health trends and high vaccine uptake.
“I didn’t see any reason to hold us back, given that so many Ontarians have come forward,” Dr. Kieran Moore said Friday.
Moore asked residents, however, to remain vigilant against the virus given the risk of new variants like the more transmissible Delta strain that’s now dominant in Ontario.
The province has also detected six cases of the Lambda variant, which the World Health Organization has labeled a virus variant of interest.