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Ontario Announces Regions to Enter Stage 3 this Week

Published on
July 13, 2020

The Ontario government announced that the province is taking the next step in the gradual reopening of the province. Twenty-four public health units will enter Stage 3 on Friday July 17, 2020. Details on the Stage 3 re-opening framework were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.

The reopening will again take a regional approach and is only possible because of the declining number of COVID-19 cases in the provinces and the declining number of hospitalizations. Stage 3 is a further step toward economic recovery because it will see 99% of businesses in those regions able to open. These regions will see dine in restaurants, bars, gyms and studios, live shows and cinemas, casinos, teams sports, recreational spaces and activities and tour & guide services to open subject to proper health and safety measures, as well as increased limits on gathering sizes. The provincial Framework for Reopening our Province: Stage 3 outlines the details. Stage 3, however, does not see an expansion of social circle; it is maintained at a maximum of 10 people.

Regions in Stage 3 will have expanded gathering limits:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings such as parties, fairs, fundraisers, wedding receptions, funeral receptions, festivals, community events or gatherings, real estate open houses, concerts, live shows and movie theatres, convention centres and other meeting or event spaces, and sports and recreational fitness activities. People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.

Regardless of whether a region has entered Stage 3, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised that the following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the 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 by performers hired by the establishment 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.

The province has developed a process to work collaboratively with business and sectors that are either not able to reopen in Stage 3, or who are experiencing significant challenges opening with restrictions in Stage 3, to submit a reopening plan and work with the province and Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Regions Entering Stage 3 Reopening:

The regions under the following public health units are permitted to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 17 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Regions Remaining in Stage 2:

The following regions will remain in Stage 2, as additional time is required to assess and monitor any impacts and readiness to move into Stage 3:

  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Peel Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

Decisions about which regions will enter Stage 3 and when will be made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and will be informed by key public health indicators. The province will continue to reassess local trends in public heath indicators to determine additional public health unit regions that can progress to Stage 3. Regions meeting the criteria will be announced each Monday. Regional openings will likely follow a similar order to that seen in Stage 2 because the Chief Medical Officer of Health would like to see four complete weeks of data since the region entered Stage 2 before they progress to Stage 3.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health will closely monitor the situation and will monitor for spikes in cases and the need to for restrictions to be tightened. The province continues to remind and advise Ontarians to keep up with public health measures including continuing to practise physical distancing and wearing a face covering when doing so is difficult, washing hands frequently and practising good hygiene. In addition, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise when public health restrictions like public gathering limits can be loosened further.

Child Care

The province also announced that beginning on July 27, 2020 all child care centres in the province will be permitted to increase their operating capacity, to operate with cohorts of 15 children. This is another step forward in providing stable and safe child care for parents and families getting back to work. With this change the child care sector will operate at approximately 90 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 operating capacity.

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