Ontario is entering Step 1 of its reopening plan three days ahead of schedule—a move that will allow residents to enjoy the summer weather with a variety of outdoor activities now permitted.
The province was supposed to begin reopening on June 14, but Premier Doug Ford’s office said that the situation in Ontario is “exceeding the best-case scenario.”
But what does moving into Step 1 mean? Here is answers to some of the top reopening questions:
When does Step 1 start and how long does it last?
Ontario entered Step 1 of the reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11. The government has said it will wait at least 21 days between each step. This means Ontario will likely move into Step 2 on July 2.
Does Step 1 apply to the entire province?
The Ontario government has moved the entire province into Step 1, however local public health units do have the power to hold their region back. Porcupine Health Unit is the only PHU extending the current pandemic lockdown until June 24.
Can I gather with friends and family now?
Outdoor gatherings and public events are now permitted with a maximum of 10 people. Indoor gatherings with people outside of your household are still not allowed.
Can I go to a patio or eat at a restaurant?
Patios are permitted to reopen in Step 1, with a maximum of four people at a table, unless they live in the same household. There is no cap on the number of tables on a patio, but officials have said that there must be two-metres between each table or group of people.
Restaurants with patios can return to their normal hours of liquor service, Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Indoor dining is still prohibited.
Can I shop in-person now?
All retail can now open with strict capacity limits. Essential and other select retail will be allowed 25 per cent capacity while designated non-essential retail will be allowed to open with 15 per cent capacity.
There is no longer any restrictions on the goods that can be sold in an essential store.
Malls, however, remain closed to in-person shopping. Only stores featuring street-front entrances will be allowed to open.
Are gyms allowed to open?
Gyms and indoor fitness studios remain closed, however outdoor fitness classes are being allowed to resume with a 10-person cap. This includes personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training.
What’s happening with schools?
Schools remain closed to in-person learning, however the province did say that outdoor graduation ceremonies would be welcome for every grade. Most school boards in Toronto and the GTA have already said they will not be hosting in-person graduations, choosing instead to stick with their pre-planned virtual celebrations.
Schools are expected to resume in-person learning in September
Can I visit my cottage or travel outside my region?
There are no restrictions on in-province travel in Step 1.
Can I get a hair cut?
No. Personal care services are allowed to resume in Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan.
Is camping allowed?
Yes. Provincial parks in Ontario will open to overnight camping in Step 1. Provincial parks are also open for day use, however 17 parks will require pre-booking in order to address capacity limits.
What about summer camps?
Day camps for children are allowed to operate as long as they follow proper COVID-19 safety protocols. Overnight camps are not permitted.
What are the rules for religious ceremonies?
Indoor religious ceremonies are allowed with a 15 per cent capacity limit per room.
Outdoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, have no capacity limits. Instead, the government has capped the number of people in attendance based on how many people can be in an area while maintaining physical distancing.
In Step 2, further outdoor activities such as outdoor sports and leagues will resume and some indoor services will start back up. Outdoor gatherings will be expanded to 25 people and indoor gatherings of up to five people will be allowed.
Outdoor waterparks and amusement parks will also open.