Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that the province will allow numerous outdoor amenities to reopen this weekend and laid out the current plan for reopening the rest of the Ontario. It will occur in increments as vaccinations increase daily and the number of new COVID-19 cases declines. However, the government did not announce when Ontario public-school students may return to in-class instruction.
The three-stage plan to reopen will depend on the province meeting vaccination thresholds: Stage 1 will begin when 60 per cent of the population over 18 has had at least one dose, Stage 2 with 70 per cent (and 20 per cent with both doses), and Stage 3 with 80 per cent having at least one dose and 25 per cent having two doses. In the first two stages, permitted amenities will still be largely reserved for the outdoors; indoor sports, retail, and bar or restaurant dining will become an option only in Stage 3.
“That daily vaccination rate is the single biggest factor in our fight against COVID right now,” Ford said. “It’s how we start to look forward to a great summer.”
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Outdoor amenities that will be allowed to resume on May 22 include parks, recreation areas, baseball diamonds, basketballs courts, and archery ranges. Marinas and watercraft launches can open with some restrictions, and all outdoor amenities will need to maintain certain conditions, such as two metres of physical distancing and a prohibition on team sports.
In addition to the vaccination thresholds, the government anticipates moving through the stages no faster than three weeks at a time. The materials provided by the provincial government specify we're not expected to enter Stage 1 until June 14 — nearly two weeks after the current stay-at-home order expires (and matching the advice from the science advisory table presented earlier Thursday, which projected that any rebound in cases from reopening could be minimized by waiting until the middle of June). In theory — if Ontario spends no more than 21 days each in Stages 1 and 2 — that could mean that Ontario will enter Stage 3 by late July.
Between the end of the stay-at-home order on June 2 and the projected beginning of Stage 1, the previous lockdown (“grey”) conditions from the regional framework will apply provincewide, meaning that the restrictions on indoor dining and retail operators will continue.
Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that Stage 3 would begin when 80 per cent of the population had received at least one dose and 25 per cent had received three; in fact, it will begin when 80 per cent of the population has received at least one dose and 25 per cent has received two. TVO.org regrets the error.