Ontario announces a 3-step plan for reopening

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The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. The steps are based on the province-wide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health indicators. In response to recent improvements to these indicators, Ontario will allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 am.

“As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” said Premier Doug Ford. “While we must remain conscious of the continued threat the virus poses, with millions of Ontarians having received at least their first dose of vaccine we can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals.”

Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to opening, however the dates for these steps will be dependent on vaccination rates, and rates of COVID 19 cases. The province-wide emergency brake restrictions remain in effect while the province assesses when it will be moving to Step One of the roadmap with the Stay at Home order expiring on June 2.

Step One is focused on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.

Step Two will further expand outdoor activities and resume limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.

Step Three will see expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.

The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health indicators, then the province will move to the next step:

  • Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
  • Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
  • Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.

Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.

“While we know that now is not yet the moment to reopen, Ontarians deserve to know the path forward” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Brighter days are ahead and we believe this Roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice.”

Effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 am the province will reopen outdoor recreational amenities with restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing. These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the province-wide emergency brake will remain in effect.
At this time, publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.

“Due to the stringent efforts of Ontarians following public health and workplace safety measures, we have reached the point where we can begin preparing to exit the province-wide emergency brake and lift the Stay-at-Home order,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must remain vigilant however, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over and our case counts, ICU capacity and hospitalizations are still concerning. It remains critical that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures currently in place to help further reduce transmission and save lives.”

Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 58.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over. Over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.

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