Ontario's provincial government has declared that Toronto and Peel Region can finally enter Stage 3 of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving only Windsor-Essex behind in Stage 2.
The City of Toronto, which yesterday reported just one single new case of COVID-19, will move into Stage 3 of reopening this Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. The same goes for Peel.
Premier Doug Ford's office announced the news early Wednesday morning, noting that the decision was made in consultation with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and local medical officers of health "based on positive local trends of key public health indicators."
Dine-in restaurants, bars, fitness centres, theatres, casinos, team sports, live events have all been given the green light to resume operations under Stage 3, along with everything else that isn't explicitly mentioned by the province in its Stage 3 framework document.
Outdoor gathering limits have also been raised to a maximum of 100 people, while indoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted. Physical distancing will remain a requirement for all people in Ontario who are not from the same household or social circle.
"While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we're asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly," said Premier Doug Ford when announcing the news this morning.
"We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols."
The province also stated when announcing Toronto's advancement to Stage 3 that it is "supportive of proposals made by the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health relating to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments that are permitted to be open."
Previous to the announcement, Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex were the only three of 34 Ontario public health regions being held back in Stage 2.
Officials had said that this was due to a lack of data, as the Toronto, Peel and Windsor entered Stage 2 later than the rest.
The first 24 regions approved to enter Stage 3 on July 17 are the same that were first approved to enter Stage 2 on June 12. Seven more public health regions followed on a slight delay, hitting Stage 3 on July 24. Windsor-Essex entered Stage 2 on June 25, with the exception of Kingsville and Leamington, which followed on July 7.
Moving forward, the province says it will "continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened."
"It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3," notes the government's Wednesday morning announcement.
"This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO