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More Ontario regions to enter Stage 2 of reopening Friday; Toronto, Peel, Windsor still excluded

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ford names more regions set to start Stage 2 of Phase 2 reopening' Coronavirus outbreak: Ford names more regions set to start Stage 2 of Phase 2 reopening
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced additional regions on Monday that have been given the green-light to proceed with Stage 2 of Phase 2 of the regional reopening process in the province starting June 19. Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex will continue to be excluded.

More regions in Ontario will enter Stage 2 of reopening on Friday amid improving coronavirus case numbers, though Toronto, Peel Region, and Windsor-Essex will continue to be excluded.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement during a press conference Monday afternoon.

“This will mean more people going back to work at restaurants, bars, beauty salons, shopping malls, and many other businesses — big and small — in those regions,” Ford said.

READ MORE: 181 new coronavirus cases, 8 deaths in Ontario as total cases reach 32,370

The following areas are entering Stage 2 on Friday:

  • Durham Region
  • Hamilton
  • York Region
  • Halton Region
  • Niagara Region
  • Haldimand-Norfolk
  • Sarnia-Lambton County

“For the regions still remaining in Stage 1 … we ask you, please be patient because we can’t let our guard down,” Ford said. “But the good news is, the public health trends across the province are going in the right direction. We’re making steady progress and if we keep working together, I’m hopeful that all communities in Ontario will be able to enter Stage 2 very, very soon.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario churches open with COVID-19 restrictions

Stage 2 allows for the reopening of outdoor dining services at bars and restaurants, shopping malls, outdoor recreation facilities, hair and beauty salons, as well as barbershops, among other changes. It’s part of a three-stage reopening plan the province released in April.

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Ford said he has been in contact with the mayors of the areas that are remaining in Stage 1 and they are all “very cooperative.”

“This is the right decision,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement posted to Twitter.

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“Unfortunately, case counts and incidence rates across the entire region remain the second-highest in the province, though they have certainly started to decline. It is clear we still have more work to do in terms of a sustained decline across the entire Region of Peel to proceed into [Stage 2].”

Toronto reported 85 new coronavirus cases on Monday, while Peel Region reported 41. Windsor-Essex had seven new cases, but had 26 on Sunday. Overall, the province reported 181 new cases — a sign of a continuing downward trend overall.

Twenty-eight of the province’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer cases on Monday, with 18 reporting none at all.

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Ford said he understands that people from areas that are in Stage 1 may decide to visit places with less restrictions, but he said it’s important that regions with few cases be given the opportunity to begin economic recovery.

“Be vigilant. Don’t let your guard down. We aren’t out of this by any means,” Ford added.

Twenty-four of 34 regions in the province entered Stage 2 of reopening this past Friday. Across all of Ontario, some changes were implemented, including increasing the gathering size limit to 10 and allowing the partial reopening of places of worship.

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