The city of Toronto and Peel Region have joined a large majority of the province with entering stage three of the Ontario government’s reopening plan on Friday amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The stage three entry took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, five weeks after Toronto entered stage two. Windsor-Essex is the last remaining part of Ontario to remain in stage two of the reopening.
With stage three comes with easing a number of restrictions as it relates to public gatherings and operating conditions for a variety of businesses.
Residents are now allowed to attend indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people. Orders surrounding physical distancing (at least two metres away from anyone outside of your social bubble of 10 people) and municipal orders surrounding the mandatory wearing of masks and face covering in indoor public spaces all remain in place.
In a statement on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said the decision to move Toronto and Peel Region into stage three was made in consultation with Ontario’s chief medical officer of health and the local medical officers of health.
“We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet,” he wrote.
“This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols.”
Just before the order took effect on Friday, restaurant staff were preparing for customers.
Chris Stokes, the manager at Hemingway’s Restaurant and Bar in downtown Toronto, said the reopening is also important for staff.
“A lot of them were off for almost three months, so coming back they want to feel safe and guests coming in want to know that we have the option of using plastic cutlery that’s in packages if they want to do that,” he said.
Next door at Dimmi Bar and Trattoria, representative Raymond Commisso said the business won’t be open for indoor dining until the first week of August at least, citing safety concerns.
Here’s what will change for businesses in Toronto and Peel Region
All facilities will see occupancy limits with many establishments only allowed to have a small percentage of the typical capacity. Individual locations might have additional protection measures over and above provincial orders.
Restaurants and bars: Dine-in service will be allowed so long as customers are seated when eating or drinking and tables are two metres apart or have hard barriers between the tables. Signage and staff screening will need to be put in place. In Toronto, it’s required that businesses clean amenities and equipment on a regular basis. There is a total cap of 100 people inside a business (under physical distancing guidelines) and a maximum of 10 people can be at a table. Establishment staff must maintain customer contact logs for 30 days if needed for contact tracing.
Personal service settings: Businesses offering personal services, such as piercings, tattoos, facials or beard trimming for example, will require customers to wear a mask or face covering unless they are receiving services for their chin, mouth or nose area. Staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment.
Sports facilities, playgrounds and gyms: Team sports avoiding physical contact will be allowed and organized leagues are capped at 50 players. The maximum number of indoor spectators will be capped at 50 and outdoor spectators will be capped at 100. Indoor gyms will be allowed to reopen with strict modifications. Playgrounds will be allowed to reopen.
Recreational programs: Some cultural and recreational classes will be allowed to resume.
Tours and guide businesses: Indoor tours will be capped at 50 people and outdoor tours will be capped at 100 people.
Movie theatres and live shows: The indoor venues are capped at 50 people and outdoor performance venues are capped at 100. There aren’t attendance limits at drive-in movie amenities.
For a full list of what’s allowed under the Ontario government’s stage three of reopening, click here.
Here’s what is still off limits in stage three of Ontario’s reopening
Nightclubs (that haven’t been modified to operate under the conditions of a restaurant or bar), buffet restaurants, private karaoke rooms (where hard barriers aren’t installed between all patrons), saunas and table gaming at casinos aren’t allowed under stage three.
Also, overnight children’s camps and dancing by customers at restaurants or bars aren’t permitted yet.
Recommended precautions by public health officials
As restrictions for establishments and facilities are eased, Toronto Public Health recommended residents maintain regular handwashing and avoid touch one’s face with unwashed hands. If out, people were encouraged to carry hand sanitizer and/or wipes.
The washing of hands was encouraged when handling food and after touching common surfaces and playground equipment.
If exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19, residents were encouraged to stay home.
Whenever possible, people were encouraged to keep a minimum of two metres away and wearing face masks and coverings (unless a child is under two or if there are medical conditions)