More than four months after the COVID-19 pandemic first prompted a state of emergency, shutting down all non-essential businesses and services in Ontario, the City of Toronto will finally return to some semblance of normal this Friday.
The provincial government announced Wednesday morning that Toronto and Peel Region — two of the last three public health regions that remain in Stage 2 of the economic reopening process — would be allowed to enter Stage 3 on July 31 at 12:01 a.m.
According to the province's framework document, "nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen" under Stage 3, "as long as they follow the public health advice and workplace safety guidance necessary to keep everyone safe."
Gyms, bars, theatres, casinos, event venues and the dine-in areas of restaurants and cafes may all resume operations on Friday in Toronto, though it's up to each business owner to ensure that they can do so safely.
Some high-risk venues and activities will remain closed, however, until public health officials determine that COVID-19 is no longer spreading among members of the community.
The list of places and activities deemed "not yet safe to open" in Ontario under Stage 3 are:
- Amusement parks and water parks
- Buffet-style food services
- Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment who follow specific requirements
- Overnight stays at camps for children
- Private karaoke rooms
- Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
- Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
- Table games at casinos and gaming establishments
In addition to businesses that must remain closed, the province has identified a number of settings in which a maximum capacity of 100 people outdoors or 50 people indoors must be maintained throughout the duration of Stage 3.
Settings in which strict gathering limits still apply are:
- All organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g., parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions)
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
- Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
- Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
- Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring)
- Movie theatres
- Real estate open houses
- Sporting and racing events
- Tour and guide services (including boat tours)
Regardless of whether or not a business is allowed to reopen, physical distancing remains a requirement everywhere for all people who are not from the same household or social circle.
"More businesses and services are able to reopen thanks to the collective efforts of all Ontarians to limit the spread of the virus," said Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott Wednesday morning in a release announcing Toronto's impending advancement to Stage 3.
"No matter which stage a region is in, everyone needs to continue to follow public health advice to protect themselves, their families and community."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO