Ontario accelerates move to next phase of reopening

Downtown Ottawa

With vaccination levels among Ontarians continuing to rise and COVID-19 case numbers falling, the provincial government said Friday it will move to the third phase of its reopening plan on July 16 – five days earlier than originally planned.

The decision clears the way for dining facilities, retail outlets and personal care businesses to begin serving patrons indoors with no capacity limits as long as physical distancing measures are maintained. 

The move also permits indoor fitness facilities and gyms as well as movie theatres, concert venues, indoor meeting and event spaces to open at 50 per cent capacity or up to 1,000 people, whichever is less.

Outdoor social gatherings will be capped at 100 people, while up to 25 people can gather indoors. Outdoor sporting venues will be allowed to host spectators at 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less.

Meanwhile, facilities such as casinos, bingo halls, museums, galleries, aquariums and zoos can reopen at 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent outdoors.

Religious services such as weddings and funerals will also be permitted providing all appropriate health measures are observed.

Masks still required indoors

Nightclubs will be given the green light to open at 25 per cent capacity up to a maximum of 250 people. Masks will still be required to be worn indoors in public places.

“While this is exciting news, we must still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measures we know work and keep us safe,” provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.

The province said that as of Thursday, more than 77 per cent of residents aged 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than half have received their second dose.

More than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered provincewide.

Officials said the province will remain in step three for at least three weeks “and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.”

If key indicators continue to remain stable at that point, the province said “the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted.”