As nearly 60 per cent of eligible adults in Ontario have received two COVID-19 doses, the province has now moved into Step 3 of the Ford government’s reopening plan.
As of 12:01 a.m. on July 16, all regions in Ontario advanced in the plan. The move, which came five days earlier than originally scheduled, brought with it new indoor settings permitted to go forward and a further expansion of outdoor activities and settings.
Here are the major changes that will come into effect when the province enters Step 3:
- Up to 25 people can attend indoor gatherings and public events
- Expanded capacity for religious services, rites, ceremonies
- Indoor dining now allowed with no capacity limits except for keeping two metres apart from other tables
- Sports and recreational fitness facilities can operate at maximum 50 per cent capacity, 50 per cent of spectator capacity allowed up to 1,000 people
- Meeting and event spaces can now operate with up to 50 per cent capacity or up to 1,000 people (whichever is less)
- Personal care services that require masks to be removed, capacity restricted to two metres of physical distances
- Casinos, museums, aquariums, landmarks, galleries, fairs, amusement parks capped at 50 per cent indoor capacity
- Concert venues, cinemas, theatres can now operate with a cap of up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum of 1,000 people (whichever is less)
- Real estate open houses capacity expanded to people who can stay two metres apart
- Nightclubs, strip clubs can now operate with up to 25 per cent capacity or a maximum of 250 people (whichever is less)
- Indoor visits at congregate care settings (homes for children in care or with special needs, homes for adults with disabilities, women’s shelters) allowed in accordance with rules for gatherings, overnight absences allowed without a negative COVID-19 test upon return
- Gatherings and organized public events up to 100 people allowed with limited exceptions
- Spectators for outdoor sports and recreational activities are capped at 75 per cent of approved capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less)
- Casinos, museums, aquariums, landmarks, galleries, fairs, amusement parks capped at 75 per cent outdoor capacity or a maximum of 5,000 people (whichever is less) for unseated events, up to 75 per cent of capacity of 15,000 people (whichever is less) for events with mixed seating
- Outdoor visits at congregate care settings (homes for children in care or with special needs, homes for adults with disabilities, women’s shelters) allowed in accordance with rules for gatherings
In terms of the vaccination guidelines set out for Step 3 (between 70 and 80 per cent of eligible adults receiving their first vaccine dose and 25 per cent receiving their second dose), those thresholds were met weeks ago.
Meanwhile, it was on July 9 when Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s new chief medical officer of health, announced the expedited entry into Step 3.
“I didn’t see any reason to hold us back given that so many Ontarians have come forward. Over 200,000 (people a day) are coming forward to get immunized,” he told reporters at the time.
Provincial officials said masks and face coverings will remain in place in indoor public settings throughout Step 3 as will physical distancing requirements. Masks will be required in some outdoor settings along with other public health measures. Moore said he will be encouraging people to wear masks for the coming months in an effort to reduce the transmission of the virus.
As for what comes next, officials said Ontario is currently set to stay in Step 3 for at least three week and until 80 per cent of those eligible, aged 12 and older, have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and until 75 per cent are fully immunized with both doses.
After meeting those thresholds, the provincial government will reportedly look at removing the majority of public health and workplace safety measures. These measures include lifting capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and lifting social gatherings.