Ontario will enter Step 2 of the province’s three-step COVID-19 reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on June 30, the province confirmed on Thursday.
“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.
“We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.”
The move means barbers and salons will be able to open two days earlier than expected. Capacity limits for retail stores and patios have also expanded. Outdoor gathering capacity will increase to 25 people while indoor gatherings will be allowed with up to five people.
For events held outside, such as concerts and live theatre shows, audience capacity will be capped at 25 per cent of the outdoor space or seating area.
Live event organizers will also be required to sell reserved tickets and have the maximum capacity restrictions visibly posted within the outdoor space.
Indoor concert venues are allowed to reopen mainly for band rehearsals and recordings, such as live streaming events. However, the performance can not host any spectators.
Indoor cinemas and public concerts still won’t be permitted until the third stage.
However, the Region of Waterloo will be delaying its move to Step 2 for the time-being — based on current data and the prevalence of the Delta variant in the region. The region’s medical officer of health said she expects the region will be able to enter the next step in mid-July.
Ford had previously hinted that he would like to move to Step 2 a little bit sooner than originally planned.
Step 2 required 70 per cent of adults with one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 20 per cent fully vaccinated.
As of Wednesday, 76 per cent of Ontario adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and roughly 29 per cent are now fully vaccinated.
That vaccination rate matches the 70 to 80 per cent that is outlined for Step 3 of the reopening plan.
“Ontario may remain in Step Two for a period of approximately 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to Step Two on key public health and health care indicators. When it is determined to be safe, the province will promptly move to Step Three,” the province said in a release.
What is allowed under Step 2
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people
- Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity
- Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
- Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions
- Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions
- Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
- Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance;
- Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions
- Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
- Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
- Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
- Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report