Ontario to take first step to reopening Friday

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Outdoor dining, outdoor events up to 10 people, and limited retail openings – Ontario residents will get an extra weekend to enjoy “step one” of the province’s reopening “roadmap.”

Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that, based on the provincewide vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health and health system indicators, the province will move into the first step of its “Roadmap to Reopen” at 12:01 am on Friday, June 11.

The government had previously estimated step one of the reopening to begin the week of June 14.

“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” Ford said.

“The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario. 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.”

As of Sunday night at 8 pm, 72 per cent of the 18+ population in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with over 10 million doses now having been administered.

And as of Monday, the province was reporting 525 new cases of COVID-19, with the seven-day average falling to 735.

“The province’s situation is currently exceeding the best-case scenario presented in recent modelling, which indicated the province would reach below 1,000 new daily infections by June 30,” the announcement said. “The province expects these trends to continue over the coming days before entering step one.”

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of every Ontarian, beginning June 11 we will be able to cautiously lift public health measures in the settings we know are safest,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“While this is exciting news, as we move to enter Step One of Ontario’s Roadmap it remains critical that all Ontarians continue to follow public health advice and roll up their sleeves to receive the vaccine.”

Step one of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of more outdoor activities with smaller crowds where risk of transmission is lower. It will also permit more limited indoor settings to be open, all with restrictions in place.

Step one includes but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals.

The province will remain in step one for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators.

If at the end of the 21 days the province has vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent of adults with two doses and there are continued improvements in other key public health and health system indicators, the province will move to step two of the Roadmap.

“While we have reached the point where we can safely move into step one, now is not the time to get complacent,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“We must all remain vigilant, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over. By continuing to follow public health advice and measures we can continue to reduce transmission, safeguard health system capacity and save lives.”

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