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Ontario government plans for ‘slow, measured’ reopening

Ontario Premier Doug Ford held a provincial update at Queen’s Park on May 20, 2021.

On Thursday, May 20, 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, to announce what they referred to as a “slow, measured” reopening of the Province.

“Five weeks ago, I spoke to you from this table, and I told you that we were seeing some very troubling projections from our public health experts. The COVID-19 variants that arrived through our borders were spreading rapidly and being identified across the province, our ICUs were overflowing, hospitals were close to being overwhelmed, our healthcare system was at a breaking point,” said Premier Ford. “I told you that as Premier, I would make the tough, but necessary decisions to save lives, and ensure our hospitals didn’t collapse under the strain of these new deadly variants. We put in place strict measures to immediately stop the spread of this virus, and give ourselves time to roll out more vaccinations.”

“Speaking to you today, I can say that these measures have worked. Collectively as Ontarians, we have saved thousands of lives, and that is thanks to your sacrifices. Today, we’re seeing increasingly positive trends and key public health indicators,” Premier Ford continued. “As a result, we’re now in a position to look at a slow and measured reopening of the province, and working in lockstep with our public health officials, we have created a plan to safely reopen in the coming weeks.”

“We have lowered eligibility to anyone over 18 across the province, and almost 60% of adults have received their first shot, but the speed at which we get through this reopening will come down to one thing: how quickly we get people vaccinated. And we all have a part to play in that,” Premier Ford continued. “If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, please go and get it now. If you have, please encourage a friend, a family member, and neighbour to get theirs. Because that daily vaccination rate is the single biggest factor in our fight against COVID right now. It’s how we start to look forward to a great summer.”

“Thanks to your efforts, we can begin with opening most outdoor recreational amenities, starting this Saturday, May 22. We’re in a better place right now. And that’s the result of your commitment to keeping each other safe and getting vaccinated,” he went on. “We can’t risk undoing the progress we’ve made, too much has been lost to do that right now. I know, the weather’s great. It’s the long weekend. You just want to get back to normal. But please keep following the guidelines closely. Stay vigilant and stay safe. We’re not done with this pandemic yet, but we will get through this if we keep working together.”

Minister Elliot thanked the collective efforts of Ontarians who continue to roll up their sleeves and follow public health advice, saying, “We continue to make progress in our fight against COVID-19.”

“Today we are releasing our roadmap to reopen. The roadmap represents a way out of the pandemic, and provides a clear path forward on what will be carefully and safely reopened, and when. It includes three steps based on the province-wide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators. When it is time to exit the province-wide emergency brake, we will begin first with the settings that we know are the safest,” she said.

The Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures:

  • Step One, reached when 60 per cent of adults are vaccinated with one dose: an initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table, and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Two, reached when 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent are vaccinated with two doses: Further expanding of outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Three, reached when 70 to 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent are vaccinated with two doses: Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.

The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days. “This will allow us to evaluate any impacts on key indicators and determine whether the province is ready to safely move to the next step in this plan based on current trends and key health indicators. We expect to enter step one of the roadmap around the week of June 14 and over the coming weeks, our government will continue to work with businesses and sector partners to ensure a clear understanding of when and how they can begin to safely reopen,” Minister Elliott said.

“With this roadmap, it’s clear that there are brighter days ahead, and there is hope for a more open and safe summer. This starts Saturday, May 22 with the reopening of outdoor recreational amenities such as golf courses and tennis courts, helping Ontarians to safely celebrate the long weekend. Outdoor gathering limits will also be expanded to five people,” she continued.

“Due to the stringent efforts of Ontarians following public health and workplace safety measures, we have reached the point where we can begin preparing to exit the province-wide emergency brake and lift the Stay-at-Home order,” said Dr. Williams. “We must remain vigilant however, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over and our case counts, ICU capacity and hospitalizations are still concerning. It remains critical that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures currently in place to help further reduce transmission and save lives.”

A non-exhaustive list of the Roadmap to Reopening according to subject or sector:

Subject / SectorBefore Step OneStep OneStep TwoStep Three
RetailEssential retail at 25% capacity;Other restrictions apply to some essential retailers (e.g. restricted hours, appointments required, etc.)In-store shopping at discount and big box retailers limited to essential goodsCurbside pick-up or delivery for non-essential retailRestrictions on shopping mallsEssential retail at 25% capacity and and can sell all goods (including discount and big box)Non-essential retail at 15% capacityRetail stores in malls closed unless the stores have a street facing entrance.Essential retail at 50% capacityNon-essential retail at 25% capacityEssential and non-essential retail open with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing
Liquor stores Open at 25% capacity, with restricted hoursOpen at 25% capacityOpen at 50% capacityOpen with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing
Restaurants and barsOpen for take-out, drive-through and delivery serviceOutdoor dining with 4 people per table and other restrictionsOutdoor dining with 6 people per table and other restrictionsKaraoke permitted with restrictions (outdoor)Indoor dining with capacity and some other restrictionsOutdoor dining with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancingBuffets permittedKaraoke permitted with restrictions
Personal care services ClosedClosedSensory deprivation pods permitted when prescribed by a regulated health professionalOpen at 25% capacity to maximum of 5 peopleAppointment requiredServices that require the removal of a face covering not permittedOnly patrons being served can be in the settingOpen with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing and other restrictions
Sports and recreational fitness facilities Closed for indoor use except for high-performance athletes, child care, mental health and addiction support services, social services, and physical therapy (subject to conditions)Outdoor team sports – training only, 10 people max, 3m distanceClosed for indoor use except for high-performance athletes, social services, and physical therapyOutdoor sports leagues openTraining for professional or amateur athletes and/or competitionsIndoor open, with some restrictionsOutdoor open, with some restrictions
Personal fitness and trainingClosed – no indoor or outdoor sports or recreational classes at any indoor or outdoor sport and recreational facilitiesOutdoor fitness classes – 10 people max, 3m distanceOutdoor personal training – 10 people max, 3m distanceOutdoor sports training only – 10 people max, 3m distanceOutdoor fitness classes – 25 people max, 3m distanceOutdoor personal training – 25 people max, 3m distanceIndoor open, with some restrictionsOutdoor open, with some restrictions
Outdoor recreational amenities Open, including golf courses, tennis courts, skateboarding parks, sports fields, BMX and skate parks, shooting ranges and archery ranges, and others, with restrictions.Horse riding permitted, with restrictionsNo outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted.OpenOpenOpen
Water featuresClosedOutdoor pools, splash pads, spray pads, whirlpools, wading pools and water slides open with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancingOutdoor pools, splash pads, spray pads, whirlpools, wading pools and water slides open with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancingIndoor and outdoor pools, splash pads, spray pads, whirlpools, wading pools and water slides open with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing
Meeting and event spaces Closed with exceptions for certain purposes including social services, government operations, court services, in-person examinations for select professions (subject to conditions)Closed with exceptions for certain purposes including social services, government operations, court services, in-person examinations for select professions (subject to conditions)Outdoor spaces open at 25% capacity and other restrictionsIndoor meeting and event spaces closed, with exceptions for certain purposes, and except for viewing for potential booking of a future eventIndoor spaces open with capacity and other restrictions, including for tradeshows, conferences and exhibitions
Day camps ClosedOpen based on guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of HealthOpen based on guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of HealthOpen based on guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Overnight campsClosedClosedOpen based on guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including epidemiological context and other specific conditionsOpen based on guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including epidemiological context and other specific conditions
Commercial film/TV productionOpen with no audienceNo more than 50 performers on setDistance or equipment requirements for crew, hair and makeup services, and musiciansMust comply with industry guidancePost-production, visual effects, animation studios openOpen with no audienceNo more than 50 performers on setDistance or equipment requirements for crew, hair and makeup services, and musiciansMust comply with industry guidancePost-production, visual effects, animation studios openOpen with no audienceDistance or equipment requirements for crew, hair and makeup services, and musiciansMust comply with industry guidancePost-production, visual effects, animation studios openOpen with capacity restrictions for studio audiences.Distance or equipment requirements for crew, hair and makeup services, and musiciansMust comply with industry guidancePost-production, visual effects, animation studios open
Performing artsClosedClosedIndoor closed, permitted only for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted eventOutdoor open, including live music, with capacity and other restrictionsIndoor open, including live music, with capacity and other restrictionsOutdoor open, including live music, with capacity restrictions
CinemasClosedDrive-in openIndoor closedOutdoor open with capacity and other restrictionsIndoor open with capacity and other restrictionsOutdoor open with capacity and other restrictions
Casino, bingo halls and gaming establishmentsClosedClosedClosedOpen with capacity and other restrictions
Horse RacingTraining onlyNo members of the public permitted at the facilityOutdoor with capacity and crew restrictionsNo spectatorsOpen with spectator capacity and other restrictionsOpen with spectator capacity and other restrictions
Motorsports and speedwaysClosedOutdoor with capacity and crew restrictionsNo spectatorsOpen with spectator capacity and other restrictionsOpen with spectator capacity and other restrictions
Weddings, funerals and religious services, rites and ceremonies(Does not apply to receptions)Max 10 persons indoorsMax 10 people permitted outdoors10 indoorsOutdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancingIndoor permitted at 15% capacityOutdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancingLarger indoor services, rites, and ceremoniesOutdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing
GatheringsMax 5 people for outdoor gatheringsMax 10 people for outdoor gatherings and organized public eventsIndoor not permittedMax 25 people for outdoor gatherings and organized public eventsMax 5 people for indoor gatherings and organized public events with other restrictionsLarger indoor and outdoor gatherings and organized public events with size limits
Short-term rentals (does not include hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, etc but does apply to cabins and cottages)Only for people in need of housingOpenOpenOpen
Public librariesCurbside pickups for materialsAccess to computers, photocopiers, and similar services permittedCurbside pickups for materialsAccess to computers, photocopiers, and similar services permittedOpen with 25% capacity and other restrictionsOpen, with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing and other restrictions
Museums, Attractions, etc.ClosedZoos and aquariums open to care for animalsOutdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens, and similar attractions open with reduced capacity and other restrictions (excludes public events)Outdoor waterparks open with reduced capacity and other restrictionsOutdoor amusement parks open with reduced capacity and other restrictions, including on ridesMuseums and art galleries open with capacity limited to permit 2m physical distancing and other restrictionsIndoor zoos and aquariums, waterparks, and amusement parks open with capacity restrictions
Fairs and Rural ExhibitionsClosedClosedOutdoor open at reduced capacity and other restrictionsIndoor and outdoor open at reduced capacity and other restrictions
Tour and Guide Services (e.g., boat tours)ClosedClosedOutdoor open with capacity and other restrictionsIndoor open with capacity and other restrictions
ConstructionOpen with some limitations to commercial projectsAll construction openAll construction openAll construction open
Driving Instruction and TestingNot permitted, except for drivers of commercial vehiclesDriving testing permitted with restrictionsDriving testing permitted with restrictionsDriving instruction permitted with restrictionsDriving testing permitted with restrictionsDriving instruction permitted with restrictions
Veterinary services OpenOpenOpenOpen
Pet grooming, animal shelters, stables, pet sitters, pet walkers, pet trainersOpenOpenOpenOpen
Lawn care and landscaping servicesOpenOpenOpenOpen
Ontario Parks and Campgrounds Ontario Parks open for day useOvernight only open for individuals in need of housing or with full seasonal contracts; only sites with electricity, water and sewage facilities may be provided for useAll recreational and shared facilities (e.g. washrooms) are closedOpenOpenOpen
Marinas / Boating Clubs Open with limited services including, repairs or servicing of boats, placing boats in water, and enabling individuals’ access to their residence or propertyRecreational boating permitted but only members of a household can gather on a boatClubhouse, rec facilities closed; restaurants open for take-out onlyPermitted with clubhouses, and other indoor amenities closedPermitted with clubhouses, and other indoor amenities closedOpen with restrictions.
Strip clubsPermitted to operate as a restaurant in alignment with restaurant restrictionsPermitted to operate as a restaurant in alignment with restaurant restrictionsPermitted to operate as a restaurant in alignment with restaurant restrictionsPermitted to operate as a strip club in alignment with restaurant and performance restrictions

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