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ontario reopening stages

These are the reopening stages in Ontario and where we're at in the process

Ontario's reopening stages may be slightly confusing to some, especially considering the fact that they vary by region. But regardless of where you live in the province, it's important to know exactly where your area is in the process of restarting and recovering.

The provincial government revealed an 11-page document called A Framework for Reopening our Province at the end of April, and it outlines the stage-by-stage approach that Ontario has taken to slowly lift emergency measures and return to something resembling normal. 

As of June 18 at 9:30 a.m., the majority of the province is in Phase 2, Stage 2 of the framework, while Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex remain in Phase 2, Stage 1

These three regions haven't had the same success as the rest of the province when it comes to reducing spread of the virus, and they'll remain in Stage 1 until their public health situations improve. In yesterday's case update, for example, 81 per cent of the 190 new cases were reported within the Toronto, Peel and Windsor regions.

Stage 1, according to the province's framework, includes "opening select workplaces that can immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements (e.g., curbside pick‑up or delivery)" and "opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allow for a greater number of individuals to attend some events, such as funerals."

If you happen to live in one of the three regions that remain in this stage, you'll find retail stores with street entrances open with safety measures in place and restaurants and bars open for takeout and pickup only. 

A long list of other businesses and services have also been allowed to reopen in this stage, including construction sites, car dealerships, scheduled surgeries and more. 

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has said that several criteria are considered when evaluating whether a region is ready to enter the next stage of reopening, including virus spread and containment, health system capacity, public health system capacity and incidence tracking capacity. 

Most consistently, he's said he needs to see a consistent
two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID‑19 cases.

Those regions that have reached these milestones — meaning all areas of the province outside of Toronto, Peel and Windsor — are now in Stage 2 of reopening. 

Stage 2, according to the framework, includes opening even more workplaces based on risk assessments and opening more outdoor spaces. Also, of course, Stage 2 includes continued protections for vulnerable populations, and the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

For the average person, the most exciting parts of Stage 2 are likely the fact that you can grab a drink on a patio or finally get a haircut. 

This stage allows for the reopening of some personal care services, shopping malls and centres, outdoor and water recreational facilities, Ontario Parks campgrounds and private campgrounds, restaurant and bar patios and a whole host of other things

There's no word yet on when any region of the province will be permitted to enter Stage 3, which includes opening all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings.

The framework does specify, however, that large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.

It's also important to note that Ontario's gathering limit of up to 10 people (while social distancing), as well as the social circles of up to 10 people (no social distancing required) are permitted in all parts of the province, regardless of which stage they're in.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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