Province announces details on Stage 3 of reopening

The Ontario government has announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen under the third stage of reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place.

“As Ontario continues down the path to economic recovery, decisions on which regions will enter Stage 3 and when will be made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts and based on trends of key public health indicators,” reads a media release from the Province.

Simcoe County and Kawartha Lakes can both move into Stage 3 as of Friday (July 17), while Durham and York regions will remain in Stage 2:

“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, indoor gathering limits will be increase to a maximum of 50 people, while the maximum for outdoor events has been raised to 100.

Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements, the press release notes.

“Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events,” it reads.

Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

“With almost all businesses and services able to resume operations, Stage 3 is a major step forward in our plan to reopen the province,” said Finance Minister Rod Phillips.

“We have to keep treating each other with respect and acting responsibly to keep up the progress in our fight against COVID-19. Our government will continue working with our partners across Ontario to rebuild our economy so that our province is a place of economic strength and prosperity for every person and family.”

The following public health unit regions will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday – 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 and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

Businesses and municipalities will be permitted to enter Stage 3 based on their region and, as in the previous stages, may choose to take more time before reopening.

“At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3,” the media release reads.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.

“Having seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the province safely re-started over 90 per cent of economic activity with Stage 2, we now have the confidence to move certain regions into Stage 3, including expanding the size of gatherings indoors and outdoors,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

“As we do, it’s never been more important for all Ontarians to continue to practise physical distancing and wear a face covering when doing so is a challenge, such as safely visiting a favourite local store. Together, we’ll continue to move Ontario forward.”

As the province safely and gradually enters Stage 3, childcare centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place.

Beginning on July 27, childcare centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the childcare sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Providing childcare for parents is critical so that, as more Ontarians return to work, they can do so with confidence in knowing that their children are being safely cared for,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

“Childcare is an integral enabler to the continued restart of Ontario’s economy, and we remain committed to working to ensure childcare remains accessible, affordable and, most importantly, safe as we gradually increase capacity of Ontario’s childcare sector.”

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