Ontarians can return to the tees as early as Saturday (May 22), following the unveiling of the Province’s “Roadmap to Reopen“.
Announced Thursday (May 20), the government has prepared a three-step plan to reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. Prior to entering the first of the three phases, the Province is allowing some outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with restrictions in place, effective this Saturday.
“As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“While we must remain conscious of the continued threat the virus poses, with millions of Ontarians having received at least their first dose of vaccine we can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals.”
The Provincial plan, which does not include specific dates, outlines three steps to easing public health measures. These phases include the following:
- Step One An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
- Step Two Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
- Step Three Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.
Each phase will last a minimum of 21 days, according to the Government, to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators.
“If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step,” reads a release from the Province.
Vaccination thresholds for each step are as follows:
- Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
- Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
- Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
As of Thursday, the Government says Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to more than 58.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and older.
The Province expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021 but has said they will confirm closer to that date. Until then, with the exception of some outdoor recreation amenities opening May 22, the provincewide “emergency brake” restrictions remain in effect. The Stay at Home order is still expected to expire June 2.
“Due to the continuing success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures to date, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the province will reopen outdoor recreational amenities with restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing. These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted,” reads the Provincial release.
“Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will remain in effect.”
Schools across the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. As per the Government’s announcement, data will be assessed on an ongoing basis to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.