toronto stage 2

Doug Ford says Toronto can finally enter Stage 2 of reopening

Toronto is officially ready to move into Stage 2 of the reopening process, according to provincial health officials — and we'll be doing so a lot sooner than expected.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed during his daily press conference on Monday afternoon that Toronto hair salons, restaurants and all other business types listed under Stage 2 would be allowed to reopen this Wednesday, June 24, as of 12:01 a.m.

That's less than 48 hours away, meaning you could literally be chilling on a patio with a fresh fade by lunchtime on Wednesday.

The same can be said for residents of Peel Region, which was also just approved to reopen on Wednesday.

Windsor-Essex is now the only part of Ontario that remains in Stage 1 due to its relatively high number of new COVID-19 cases (the vast majority of which are now being diagnosed among migrant workers on farms.)

The quick turnaround, while welcomed by many, comes as a slight surprise given how the government has reopened other regions of the province so far: The first 24 were announced on Monday, June 8, with restrictions to be lifted the following Friday.

Seven more regions were green lit last Monday, but again, they weren't allowed to officially enter Stage 2 until last Friday.

Many were hopeful, expectant even, that Toronto would be approved to enter Stage 2 this afternoon, but the Wednesday lifting of Stage 1 restrictions is something nobody saw coming.

That's not to say we're mad about it.

After more than three months of pandemic-mandated closures, Wednesday can't come soon enough for some Toronto residents.

"Today's announcement is another sign that we continue to make steady progress," said Premier Ford, who noted during his press conference that the number of new cases reported this morning is the lowest Ontario has seen in nearly three months.

"We have been working hand-in-hand with our municipal partners and local public health units to safely and gradually reopen the province," Ford continued. "We will do everything we can to get our final region, Windsor-Essex, into Stage 2 as soon as possible."

When asked about the mass crowding scenes observed at Woodbine Beach and Cherry Beach in Toronto this weekend, The Premier did express some concern over the willingness of locals to comply with existing emergency orders.

"You look at the pictures, it looked like South Beach, Florida," said Ford of images circulating on social media of the east end beaches. "And you see what happened down in Florida: There's 4,000 cases in one day the other day."

Ford said that he's in talks with Toronto Mayor John Tory to get more bylaw officers patrolling beaches and enforcing orders, but urged all Ontarians to take it upon themselves to practice social distancing.

"This fight's not over," he said of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We're wining the fight, but its not over by any means. It could turn and bite us in the backside in about a heartbeat."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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