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Ontario to enter Step 1 of reopening Friday, outdoor dining and non-essential retail to resume

Last Updated Jun 7, 2021 at 2:12 pm EDT

Summary

Step 1 of Ontario's economic recovery plan was initially set for June 14 but officials hinted at an early reopening.

Outdoor dining will resume with up to 4 patrons per table. Non-essential retail is permitted at 15% capacity.

As of June 6, the government says 72% of the 18+ population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ontario is poised to take its first, long-awaited measure at getting life back to normal as the government announced that it will reopen parts of the economy and enter Step 1 on Friday; a few days ahead of schedule.

The move will allow for patio dining at a maximum of four patrons per table and limited non-essential retail shopping to resume at 15 per cent capacity ahead of the upcoming weekend.

The reopening of non-essential retail is street entrance only and stores located inside of malls without a street entrance will reopen to the public in Step 2, now slated for July 2.

This will also clear the way for outdoor gatherings and public events of up to 10 people and religious services, rites and ceremonies – as well as weddings and funeral services – resuming at 15 per cent capacity limited to permit two metres of physical distancing.

Sports, training, and personal training of up to 10 people are also allowed as of 12:01 a.m. Friday morning.


RELATED: 3-step reopening plan: What to expect in Ontario this summer


Ontario businesses have been locked down since mid-April as the province navigated a third wave of the virus.

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

“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.”

Step 1 of the Ford government’s reopening plan was tentatively slated for Monday, June 14 but with new daily COVID-19 cases staying well below 1,000 over the weekend, there was shared optimism that the roadmap could be kickstarted by a few days.


RELATED: 3-step reopening plan – Here is what to expect in Ontario this summer


Sources confirmed to 680 NEWS that Premier Ford and his cabinet met on Monday morning to discuss a plan to start Step 1 of the reopening on Friday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott hinted last week that the early reopening could be in the cards a few days in advance.

“I don’t have a specific date. I don’t think it would be a week earlier but it may be a few days earlier that we may be able to proceed,” Elliott said at the time.

As outlined by the province, Step 1 of the roadmap to reopening requires 60 per cent of adults in Ontario to be vaccinated with at least one dose. Nearly 70 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have now received their first dose.

The province confirmed Monday that as of June 6 at 8:00 p.m., 72 per cent of those 18-plus in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with over 10 million doses now having been administered.

Just over one million Ontarians are now fully vaccinated with two doses.

“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 Elliott.

“While this is exciting news, as we move to enter Step 1 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.”

The province will remain in Step One for at least 21 days to assess impacts on key public health and health system indicators.

The decision to reopen ahead of time also seems to indicate that the province is well on its way to moving into Step 2, which would allow for hair salons to reopen and indoor gatherings of up to five people.

Before this step can begin, 70 per cent of Ontario adults need at least one dose, and 20 per cent need to have received both doses.

One man gets a haircut in York Region. (Defina Pan)

On Sunday, Ontario reported the fewest number of new COVID-19 cases since before the peak of the second wave in October. The rolling seven-day average of cases has fallen to below 800 for the first time since the fall.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 fell to 545 over the weekend, however, the total number is underreported on weekends as many hospitals fail to submit their data. There are 510 patients in the ICU. Two weeks ago, that number was just under 700.

The province’s current situation is also exceeding the best-case scenario presented in recent COVID-19 modelling, which showed Ontario would reach below 1,000 new daily infections by June 30.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams pointed to a slight bump in new infections last week ahead of the weekend.

Some health officials expressed concern the province could see an uptick in cases two weeks after the Victoria Day long weekend but COVID indicators appear to be still moving in the right direction.

Dr. Williams confirmed that health officials are looking into how vaccine doses protect against the Delta B.1.617 variant.

“We’re still trying to understand how it behaves. What is its severity, what is its hospitalization rate, what is its morbidity rate, what is its mortality rate,” said Williams.

“We understand it’s more transmissible.”

Dr. Kieran Moore will start working with Williams this week to ensure a smooth transition for when he is expected to take over as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health on June 26.

Williams had been slated to retire in September, but his last day has been pushed up by several months.


Step 1 – Roadmap to Reopen

 

Outdoor settings: 

  • Up to 10 people outside
  • Up to 4 people per table (patio dining)
  • Religious services, rites and ceremonies: Capacity limited to permit 2 metres of physical distancing
  • Sports, training, and personal training: Up to 10 people
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors to rehearse or perform a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team
    sports training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions
  • Day camps
  • Campsites and campgrounds
  • Ontario Parks
  • Horse racing and motor speedways
  • Attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity
    and other restrictions
  • Weddings permitted at capacity, limited to permit at least two metres of physical distancing

 

Retail settings: 

  • Essential retail capacity at 25%
  • Non-essential retail capacity at 15%
  • Retail stores in malls closed unless locations have street-facing entrance

The government also announced it is enabling school boards for “public and private elementary and high schools” to invite students back for brief outdoor end-of-year celebrations.

Officials say any in-person school event will need to meet specific requirements, such as meeting outdoors with a maximum of two guests per student.

All of Quebec is now out of the province’s highest pandemic alert level amid a continued decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Montreal, Laval and several smaller municipalities — the only parts of Quebec that remained at the red alert level — moved to the lower orange level today.

That allows gyms and restaurant dining rooms to reopen and sees high school students return to in-person learning full-time instead of having online classes on alternating days.

The Ford government announced last week that Ontario students will not be back in classrooms before the end of the school year.

Ford pointed to the risk of the emerging delta B.1.617 COVID-19 variant first detected in India, which is rapidly growing provincewide and could become the most dominant strain in Ontario.

Ontario is the only Canadian province with schools currently closed to in-person learning.


With files the Canadian Press

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