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The province announced today that they will be moving into the first initial phase of its three-step reopening plan ahead of schedule, beginning this Friday at midnight.
The decision comes after Ontario reported 525 new COVID cases today, the lowest single-day number of new cases in the province since Sept. 27. The first stage of the plan, dubbed by the province as the “Roadmap to Reopen”, will permit numerous outdoor activities, as well as non-essential shopping at strict capacities. The province will enter step one of the reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11.
“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” said Premier Doug Ford in a press release. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario.”
The province had initially aimed to begin the first step of reopening on Monday, June 14, but had seen a decline in both cases and hospitalizations in the days leading up to the decision. Additionally, 72 per cent of adults (18+) in the province have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of June 6, which also played a major role in the decision to accelerate the reopening plans, according to Ford.
As a part of the first stage of reopening, outdoor dining at restaurants will be permitted for up to four people per table with an exception for larger households. Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events will also be permitted for up to 10 people. Non-essential retail will also reopen with a strict 15 per cent capacity and no restrictions on any goods that can be sold. Essential retail will increase maximum capacity to 25 per cent as well.
Although it is an exciting time for many, government and health officials are still urging the public to continue following all health and safety measures as the province begins to reopen again.
“While we have reached the point where we can safely move into Step One, now is not the time to get complacent,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must all remain vigilant, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over.”
The first step of the Roadmap to Reopen plan will remain intact for at least 21 days so that officials can track and evaluate any impacts on public health. If after the 21 days 70 per cent of adults have received one dose of the vaccine and 20 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated, along with other positive health trends, the province will enter the next step of their reopening plan.
The province continues to execute their vaccine rollout, with news that residents will be able to book their second dose of the vaccine at an accelerated rate.
“This was a true #TeamOntario effort,” Ford tweeted on Monday. “Thank you to everyone for your hard work.”