July 13, 2020
Today the provincial government released further details of Stage 3 of reopening Ontario’s economy. Health Minister Christine Elliott stated that she expected Ontario to remain in Stage 3 for quite some time.
Effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17, most regions of Ontario will enter Stage 3 of the province’s Framework for Reopening our Economy with nearly all businesses and public spaces in those regions set to reopen. However, many of the province’s largest population centres are in regions excluded from this progression: the GTA (Toronto, Durham, Halton, Peel, York), Haldimand-Norfolk, Hamilton, Niagara, Lambton, and Windsor-Essex.
In the regions that are part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will make the following changes:
- Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people.
- Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
- Individuals will continue to be required to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.
- Social circles will not be expanded and will remain at a 10-person maximum.
- All businesses, services, and public spaces will be subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits when hosting an event and must ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
- People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count toward gathering limits.
- Gathering at places of worship will continue to allow to be limited to 30 per cent of building capacity.
The government will continue to provide weekly updates on the progress seen in regions currently held back from entering Stage 3. Minister Elliott noted today that the second group of regions to move to Stage 2 will be the next group to move into Stage 3.
High Risk Activities Excluded from Stage 3
The government’s press release states that based on the Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts, and other officials advice, the following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, due to likelihood of large crowds, difficulties with physical distancing, and challenges maintaining proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Amusement parks and water parks
- Buffet-style food services
- Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
- Overnight stays at camps for children
- Private karaoke rooms
- Prolonged and deliberate contact while playing sports
- Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
- Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
The government is inviting businesses that are not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to submit a reopening proposal. Businesses can submit their reopening proposal here. Public health officials and government will review these proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications.
Child Care Capacity Increasing
At the same time, the government announced an increase in capacity limits for child care centres. Starting July 27, the cohort cap will be increased to 15 children (up from 10 children), and child cares will be back to 90 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 operating capacity. This will be a critical step in allowing many parents to return to work.
Declaration of Emergency
The provincial government has introduced proposed legislation to lift the provincial declaration of emergency while maintaining some existing orders to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to allow for the bill to be debated and passed, the province has extended the provincial declaration of emergency to July 24.