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Ontario set to enter provincewide COVID-19 reopening plan on June 11

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario is moving ahead with Step One of its reopening plan three days early. But come Friday, you still won't be able to do a lot, like get a haircut, and many would like to see the government ease up faster. Matthew Bingley reports.

The Ontario government has announced the province will be entering into the long-anticipated COVID-19 reopening plan on June 11, a few days ahead of the target date.

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“As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Phase one (primarily allowing retails and reopening more outdoor settings with restrictions) was set to begin as soon as 60 per cent of all eligible Ontario adults have received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses (the vaccines currently used in Ontario ultimately require two doses). However, as of June 7, more than 72 per cent of Ontario adults have received at least one dose.

Read more: Doug Ford says Ontario could enter COVID-19 reopening plan before June 14, but only if doctors sign off

Officials previously said hospitalizations, the number of people in ICUs and public health capacity were all to be factors in the decision-making process.

During the last week of May, Ontario saw a large decrease in the COVID-19 case rate (more than 35 per cent). Also, intensive care units have seen a large drop-off in admissions. Currently, there are 497 patients in the province’s ICUs and two weeks ago there were 687 patients.

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A minimum of three weeks will need to pass and 70 per cent of all eligible Ontario residents will need to have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose and 20 per cent of residents will need to have the required two doses before moving into phase two (reopening more indoor settings on a smaller basis and expanding outdoor settings). Under the government’s regulations, the earliest move to Step 2 would be July 2.

Read more: What you can do and when under Ontario’s new 3-phase COVID-19 reopening plan

After another three-week-minimum period, along with up to 80 per cent of residents receiving their first vaccine dose and 25 per cent receiving their second dose, more indoor activities will be allowed to reopen in phase three where masks can’t always be worn.

At the end of each phase, health system indicators will be reviewed before moving to the next step. Officials haven’t publicly indicated what will happen if there is a surge in cases, hospitalizations and/or deaths, but all have encouraged everyone eligible to get a vaccine to do so.

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Meanwhile, the so-called emergency brake (similar to the grey lockdown restrictions under Ontario’s old colour-coded COVID-19 response framework) imposed on a variety of sectors, including businesses, will remain in place until the end of June 10.

COVID-19: Restaurants, retail prepare for reopening in Ontario

Here are the highlights of what’s allowed under the first phase:

– Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people (a government spokesperson confirmed different households can mix)
– Patios with up to four people at each table
– Retail will begin reopening with a 15-per-cent cap for non-essential businesses, 25 per cent for essential retail
– Outdoor religious ceremonies and rites with capacity limits, capped at the number of people who can meet two-metre physical distancing requirements, receptions follow gathering limits
– Indoor religious ceremonies and rites with 15 per cent of the approved capacity for the room being used, receptions follow gathering limits
– Outdoor sports and training for up to 10 people allowed
– Day camps, campgrounds, Ontario Parks, horse racing, speedways, outdoor pools, zoos, splash pads allowed

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Here are the highlights of what’s allowed under the second phase:

– Outdoor gatherings for up to 25 people, indoor gatherings for up to 5 people
– Outdoor patio tables will be able to have up to six people
– Non-essential retail capacity will be increased to 25 per cent
– Personal care settings with face masks worn at all times
– Outdoor meeting and event spaces, amusement parks, water parks, boat tours, county fairs, sports leagues and events, cinemas and arts venues will be allowed to reopen

Here are the highlights of what’s allowed under the third phase:

– Large indoor, outdoor gatherings and indoor dining
– Greater expansion of capacity for retail businesses
– Larger indoor religious services, rites and ceremonies
– Indoor meeting, event spaces
– Indoor sports, recreational facilities
– Indoor seated events, attractions, cultural amenities
– Casinos and bingo halls
– Other outdoor, phase two activities will be allowed to operate indoors

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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