The Ontario government announced today the province will enter Stage 1 of its incremental reopening process at 12:01 a.m. on June 11 — several days earlier than previously announced. Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet met earlier on Monday to finalize the decision, which was accelerated due to fact that the province’s key health indicators haved improved faster than was factored for when the reopening plan was first announced last month.
On Monday, Ontario reported 525 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest number since September 2020.
Stage 1 will allow a substantial expansion of activities outdoors while still restricting many indoor activities, including retail in malls and religious services, which remain closed. Outdoor dining will be allowed in groups of up to four people, and outdoor gatherings in groups of up to 10 people. Non-essential retail will be permitted to reopen at 15 per cent capacity, and restrictions on what goods can be sold are being revoked — meaning that the big-box stores and dollar stores will be able to sell their full selection of goods again, after having been restricted for months.
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The government is also making an exception to the general restrictions on public gatherings to allow schools to hold end-of-year celebrations “to support students who have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic.” Those gatherings will need to abide by certain public-health regulations.
Outdoor fitness classes and personal training will also be allowed to resume, and day camps will be permitted to operate, in accordance with public-health regulations. Overnight summer camps are not yet permitted, though overnight camping in Ontario Provincial Parks is.
Outdoor concert venues and theatres and cinemas will be allowed to open for rehearsals but not for full performances, yet.
The province is expected to stay in Stage 1 for 21 days, but there’s reason to believe the government may cut that slightly short if the province’s key health indicators continue to improve as they have been: the government would prefer to move to Stage 2 for Canada Day if at all possible, which is only 20 days from June 11. Stage 2 would allow some indoor amenities to reopen more freely. Aside from marking the national holiday, getting to Stage 2 by Canada Day would also allow overnight summer camps to open by July 3, as the premier previously committed they would.
The stated benchmarks for entering Stage 2 are having 70 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 18 with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 20 per cent with their second doses. As of Monday morning, Ontario has met the first benchmark and is nearly halfway to the second, with 8.9 per cent of adults having received both doses.