The Ontario government announced on Monday that nearly all businesses and public spaces will be able to reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework.
The Southwestern Public Health region (Oxford and Elgin Counties) is one of 24 health unit regions in the province that will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 17.
As of Monday there were three active COVID-19 cases in the Oxford-Elgin region – two in Woodstock and one in Dutton-Dunwich. Tillsonburg’s COVID-19 Assessement Centre at 17 Bear Street test 236 people last week.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, which includes Norfolk County, will stay at Stage 2 for now, as it entered the second stage one week later than the majority of the province.
“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford in a release from the Office of the Premier. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”
As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits. Indoor gatherings can have a maximum of 50 people. The outdoor gathering limit increases to a maximum of 100 people. Gatherings are still subject to physical distancing requirements.
Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.
Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10.
Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.
The following high-risk places and activities are NOT yet safe to open in Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – amusement parks and water parks; buffet-style food services; dancing at restaurants and bars (other than hired performers following specific requirements); overnight stays at camps for children; private karaoke rooms; prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports; saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars; and table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
For more information on Stage 3 restrictions visit Ontario.ca/reopen.
“With almost all businesses and services able to resume operations, Stage 3 is a major step forward in our plan to reopen the province,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We have to keep treating each other with respect and acting responsibly to keep up the progress in our fight against COVID-19. Our government will continue working with our partners across Ontario to rebuild our economy so that our province is a place of economic strength and prosperity for every person and family.”
Local businesses and municipalities will be permitted to enter Stage 3 based on their region, or may choose to take more time before reopening.
“Having seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the province safely re-started over 90 per cent of economic activity with Stage 2, we now have the confidence to move certain regions into Stage 3, including expanding the size of gatherings indoors and outdoors,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we do, it’s never been more important for all Ontarians to continue to practice physical distancing and wear a face covering when doing so is a challenge, such as safely visiting a favourite local store.”
As the province enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place. Beginning July 27, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, an increase from the current cap of 10. This change will bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Providing child care for parents is critical so that, as more Ontarians return to work, they can do so with confidence in knowing that their children are being safely cared for,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.