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Ontario Government Releases Roadmap to Reopen the Province

Published on
May 20, 2021

The Ontario government has just released its Roadmap to Reopen, a “three-step” plan to reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators.

What you need to know now:

As a first step in moving towards this plan, the government is now prepared to allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with certain restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing, effective Saturday May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. Details about which recreational amenities can open can be found in the updated regulation. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will remain in effect.

At this time, publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it and when it may be safe to resume in-person learning.

What is to come:

The larger Roadmap to Reopen outlines a process for reopening the province and lifting public health measures, starting with activities deemed to be low risk and then moving to higher risk activities with restrictions on number of people. This reopening strategy is provincewide instead of by individual Public Health Unit and is based on provincewide vaccination rate and key public health and health system indicators (ICU levels, hospitalizations, and transmission). While the province is not yet ready to reopen today, this Roadmap provides guidance on when and to what degree businesses can expect to open. Based on current trends and data, the government expects to enter “Step One” of the greater Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.

Guiding Principles:

  • STEP 1 - 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 2 - Further expanding 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 3 - 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 Roadmap to Reopen provides guidance for when each sector can reopen and indicates restrictions and capacity limits. For example, all construction opens in Step One while retail stores in malls without street facing entrances open in Step Two.

Guiding Timelines:

The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:

  • STEP 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
  • STEP 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
  • STEP 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.

By most accounts, much of this roughly translates as STEP 1: June, STEP 2: July, STEP 3: August with considerable “wiggle room” in between in order to maintain some of the flexibility needed to accommodate sometimes unpredictable data and modelling.

The provincewide emergency brake restrictions remain in effect while the province assesses when it will be moving to Step One of the roadmap with the Stay at Home order expiring on June 2, 2021. We expect that the Stay at Home order may be extended to bridge with the start of Stage 1 (June 2-14).

Happy to help.

Sussex would be happy to work with and support any clients or sectors who might need greater clarity around their reopening plans and advocate for additional consideration if they feel they have not been fully captured within the Roadmap to Reopen.

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