Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated the government extended the state of emergency until May 29. However, the government extended emergency orders until May 29. This story has been updated to reflect that.
The Ontario government has extended emergency orders until May 29 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The extension means that bars and restaurants will remain closed, with the exception of takeout and delivery options, restrictions on gatherings of more than five people stays in place and “staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate setting like retirement homes and women’s shelters” also remain in effect, according to a press release Tuesday.
The government, however, is allowing for drive-in religious gatherings.
“Our government recognizes the importance that Ontarians place on participating in religious services,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We continue to take a measured approach to reopening our province and this exemption is another important step forward in that process.”
Vehicles must be kept at least two metres apart, only those who live in the same household can be in one vehicle together, no one can exit their vehicles and no more than five people can conduct a service from outside a car, according to the provincial government.
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Tuesday marks the beginning of Phase 1 in the reopening of the province amid the coronavirus pandemic, which allows for the opening of some outdoor activities such as off-leash dog parks and golf courses. Shops with storefronts were also allowed to reopen, among other things.
A full list of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed can be found here.
“Although we are entering the first stage of our framework to reopen the economy, it’s critical that we continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus.
“With warmer weather beginning, individuals and families will now be able to enjoy many outdoor amenities, but everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing from those outside of their household.”
The Ford government said that with the easing of restrictions, people need to continue to practice physical distancing, washing their hands and staying home if they are not feeling well.
To ensure that individuals and families have safe access to outdoor spaces, it is critical they take everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus, such as maintaining physical distancing by staying two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, washing hands regularly, and staying home if feeling unwell.
“It’s never been more important for people to continue following the public health measures and advice we’ve laid out, so we don’t undo the tremendous progress we’ve made to contain COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.