Parts of Ontario enter next major stage of reopening. Here's what you need to know
TORONTO -- A significant number of businesses, including restaurants, malls and hair salons can reopen today as parts of Ontario enter the next major step of the reopening phase through a regional approach.
The majority of Ontario’s public health unit regions moved forward to Stage 2 on Friday, ending the months-long closure for some businesses crippled financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Greater Toronto Area, which accounts for more than 67 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario to date, along with a few other regions like Niagara and Windsor, are not included on the list of health units moving forward into Stage 2. The areas excluded from the list will remain in Stage 1 of the restart phase.
The province said at the beginning of each week, top health officials will reassess and announce which regions are ready to move into Stage 2.
"We need just a little more time,” Premier Doug Ford said on Monday at Queen’s Park, adding that he’s confident the regions not moving forward to Stage 2 will get there "very soon."
The province is also doubling social gathering rules as of today, now allowing up to 10 people, who are not from the same household, to get together. The increased social gathering rules apply to the entire province, regardless of whether the region is moving to Stage 2, but physical distancing rules still apply.
In order to support parents heading back to work, the province also announced that all child care centres in Ontario are allowed to reopen as of Friday.
Strict public health guidelines will be in place at daycares, including limiting the number of people in each space and providing additional screening.
Ontario is also allowing places of worship to reopen, with attendance limited to 30 per cent capacity, with physical distancing rules in place.
How did we get here?
In late April, the Ford government unveiled its three-phase plan to reopen the province after the economy came to a grinding halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario reported its first case of COVID-19 on January 25, a man in his 50s who travelled to China.
Businesses were forced to quickly close in March as the number of COVID-19 cases surged across the province. There were serious fears hospitals would quickly become unable to cope with the number of infected patients.
Provincial modelling suggested that without urgent health measures put in place, there would be 300,000 cases by the end of April. Only essential businesses were allowed to remain open and leaving the house for anything besides groceries, medication and brief exercise was frowned upon.After Ontario successfully flattened the curve, the province entered Stage 1 of the restart phase on May 19, allowing more non-essential businesses to reopen.
The government believes that some regions are now ready to take the next step and continue reopening.
Each of the three stages will be monitored by health officials for two to four weeks to ensure there isn’t a surge in COVID-19 infections.
When Ontario is ready to enter Stage 3, the province will allow all workplaces to reopen and relax restrictions on public gatherings.
It’s important to note that all large public gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events, will be restricted for the "foreseeable future."
Ontario is currently under a state of emergency that is set to expire on June 30.
What can reopen today?
- Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties
- Daycares, with limits on the number of children at each facility
- Select personal and personal care services, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons
- Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only
- Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries
- Water recreational facilities, such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools
- Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks
- Camping at private campgrounds
- Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing
- Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations
- Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing
- Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people
Who is moving to Stage 2?
- Algoma Public Health
- Brant County Health Unit
- Chatham-Kent Public Health
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit
- Grey Bruce Health Unit
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Huron Perth Public Health
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
- Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
- Middlesex-London Health Unit
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
- Northwestern Health Unit
- Ottawa Public Health
- Peterborough Public Health
- Porcupine Health Unit
- Public Health Sudbury & Districts
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
- Southwestern Public Health
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- Timiskaming Health Unit
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
Who is not moving to Stage 2?
- Toronto Public Health
- York Region 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