Parts of Ontario enter Stage 3: Here's what you need to know
Customers enjoy a meal at Annabelle’s Kitchen in Calgary on Thursday, June 11, 2020.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- Several regions across Ontario have entered Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan allowing nearly all businesses to finally open their doors, except in the Toronto area and a few other regions.
Only 10 regions stayed behind as the rest of the province, 24 regions altogether, leaped into the new stage on Friday, which allowed gyms, bars, dine-in services and cinemas to finally reopen.
For regions that are at Stage 3, indoor gathering limits will increase from 10 to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced earlier this week that health units in the Greater Toronto Area, along with a few others like Niagara and Windsor will not be moving forward and will remain in Stage 2 until further notice.
"We will keep working until every part of this province gets to Stage 3," Ford said Monday. "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."
The province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, previously said he hopes to see the entire province entering the next phase of reopening by the end of July.
But not all businesses cleared to open their doors will be greeting customers on Friday.
Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's largest chain of movie theatres, announced it does not plan to resume operations immediately in regions entering Stage 3.
"We are still reviewing what's being proposed by the province, so as a result we aren't in a position to open our theatres in Ontario on Friday," spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange said in a statement.
"While we are certainly excited for the day our operations can resume, our top priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and guests and ensuring that their time with us is safe, comfortable and welcoming."
Van Lange did not say when theatres may reopen.
The Cine Starz chain, however, has said its locations in Ottawa and Orleans will be open for business. A company statement indicated locations west of Toronto would reopen as soon as Stage 3 rules take effect in the region.
The government rules for Stage 3 state that any businesses resuming operations must maintain physical distancing measures for the safety of both patrons and staff.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Toronto's Sean Davidson.