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Ontario announced that the province will move into Step 3 of its reopening plan a few days ahead of schedule on July 16, which will see the return of indoor dining among a slew of other services.
On July 9, the cabinet met to confirm details of its accelerated plan to enter Step 3 of the province’s “Roadmap to Reopen” plan, which will include activities that have been prohibited in densely populated areas of the province for months, including indoor dining services at restaurants, indoor fitness facilities and food and beverage establishments with dance floors (nightclubs).
After weeks of anticipation and positive public health trends, Ontario has quickly reached its goals to allow for more public events and activities at limited capacities. As of July 8, over 77 per cent of Ontario residents aged 12 years old and up have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 50 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
“While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all,” said Premier Doug Ford in a press release on Friday.
The province also relies on other public health and health care indicators, including ICU occupancy, hospitalizations and weekly case numbers, all of which have seen a decrease in numbers since June 29, according to the press release. The province says these positive trends are expected to continue as Ontario enters Step Three.
Step Three will also see the resumption of indoor and outdoor events, such as concerts and sporting events, at limited capacities. Social gatherings and organized public events will also increase capacity to 25 people for indoor events and up to 100 people for outdoor events.
Although the province slowly inches towards their ultimate goal of reopening Ontario, health officials continue to urge the public to get their vaccine and continue to follow health and safety measures for the time being, as there is still work to be done before we can return back to normal life.
“Thanks to the continued efforts of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and advice, as well as going out to get vaccinated, we have seen most key health indicators continue to improve,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “However, the pandemic is not over and we must all remain vigilant and continue following the measures and advice in place, as the Delta variant continues to pose a threat to public health.”
The province will remain in Step Three for at least 21 days, with the goal of having more residents fully vaccinated in that time frame. The province is aiming to have 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and older receive one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent receiving their second dose, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their eligible population fully vaccinated.
Other public health indicators, like hospitalizations and weekly case rates, must continue to remain stable. Once the province is able to meet these thresholds, a majority of public health and safety measures will be lifted, leaving a small number of guidelines to remain in place.
The province is set to enter Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen plan on Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m.