The province will move into Step Two of its reopening plan two days ahead of schedule.
On June 24, the province said that with key health indicators continuing to improve–including a high vaccination rate–Ontario can enter the next step of its cautious reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record-setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.
“We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.”
In order to enter Step Two, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks.
As of June 23, 2021, over 76 per cent of Ontario residents who are 18 and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 29 per cent have received their second dose. More than 13.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered province-wide.
The province also needed to see continued improvement in case and hospitalization numbers.
After entering Step One, the provincial case rate decreased by 24.6 per cent. As of June 22, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs is 305, including 10 patients from Manitoba, as compared to 450 two weeks ago.
Step Two allows more outdoor activities and limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn.
Step Two allows:
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
- Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people;
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity;
- Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Indoor shopping malls may reopen, but they cannot allow people to eat or drink indoors
- Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions;
- Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions;
- Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room;
- Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance;
- Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions;
- Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
- Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions.
While the province has surpassed Step Three vaccination targets, Ontario may remain in Step Two for up to 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to Step Two.
“Due to the continued commitment of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and going out to get vaccinated, we have seen our key health indicators continue to improve across the province,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.
“While we can now begin preparing to ease public health measures under the Roadmap, the fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must continue adhering to the public health advice and measures currently in place to maintain this great progress.”
Williams is retiring and will be replaced by Dr. Kieran Moore. Moore will become the province’s new Chief Medical Officer of Health on June 26.
The province says that based on the latest modelling data, COVID-19 case, positivity and hospitalization rates are continuing to decline and ICU occupancy is shrinking.
Cover photo courtesy of The Canadian Press