Premier Doug Ford Announces Majority of Ontario to Move to Final Stage 3 of Reopening Plan on July 17

During his daily updates from Queen’s Park Toronto, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday afternoon a majority of Ontario will be moving to Stage 3 of the province’s three-stage reopening and economic recovery plan. 

The news comes after the province has been reporting a declining trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases across the province, which seems to indicate Ontario’s success in controlling the spread of the virus. 

In his twitter post, Premier Ford explained that 24 regions of Ontario will move to Stage 3 except for the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of Southern Ontario which will remain in Stage 2 for the time being. 

The full list of regions remaining in Stage 2 includes the following public health units: 

  • 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.

“These regions entered Stage 2 later on, so we need just a little more time. I want the people in these regions to know we won’t leave anyone behind,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“We will keep working until every part of this province gets to Stage 3.”

Stage 3, the final stage of the province’s three-stage reopening plan, would allow for the reopening of indoor dining at restaurants, live performing arts shows, and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds. 

Other attractions such as galleries, zoos, museums, playgrounds, and convention centres will also be allowed to reopen when a region enters Stage 3.

The government said all businesses and activities can reopen, except for the following:

  • 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, bathhouses and oxygen bars
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

There are strings attached to the conditions however, significant health and safety measures must be in place such as physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, and Plexiglas barriers before these places can be reopened. 

“Every corner of our province is getting back to work,” Premier Doug Ford said at the Monday news conference. 

“Today, we are ready to take the next step.”

As part of the Stage 3 announcements, Premier Doug Ford mentioned that it will allow increased indoor gathering of up to 50 people and up to 100 people for outdoor gatherings for regions who enter the third stage. 

The Premier would also clarify that people at their place of work, including performers and crews, would not count towards the gathering limits. 

Additionally, as part of the Stage 3 plans, sports facilities and gyms will be given the green light to reopen as long as public health safety measures are followed such as physical distancing except for “team sports or as needed for personal training”.

Gathering limits will apply to gyms as people will be required to maintain physical distancing and gym equipment must be cleaned between users.

Health Minister Christine Elliot mentioned that health measures such as wearing face coverings or a mask, washing hands, and physical distancing will remain key to ensuring that Ontarians can “safely enjoy the loosening of restrictions”. 

“We expect the province will remain in Stage 3 for the foreseeable future,” said the Health Minister.

She also said that health officials will be monitoring for any COVID-19 outbreaks, and can recommence the tightening of restrictions if there are any sudden spikes in new cases.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Rod Phillips commented on the Stage 3 announcements saying Ontario is in a “strong position” to reopen when compared to other areas around the world that are heavily affected by COVID-19. 

“We’re in this position because we have made the choice to act responsibly and treat each other with respect,” said Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips. 

The Ontario Finance Minister would further add that respect is key in stage three to “avoid taking a step backwards.”

Ontario COVID-19 Stats

Confirmed Cases: 36,839

Recovered: 32,663

Deaths: 2,722

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