This is what's expected to happen when we reach Stage 3 of reopening in Ontario
Stage 3 of reopening in Ontario is an exciting prospect at this point in the recovery from the pandemic. While the majority of Ontario is now in Stage 2 of reopening the economy, many in the province are already looking forward to what comes next.
The provincial government has yet to give any indication of when we might be ready to enter the final stage of Phase 2, but we do have a vague idea of what will happen once we're there.
According to the province's Framework For Reopening Our Province — an 11-page document that outlines the stage-by-stage approach that Ontario has taken to slowly lift emergency measures — regions will be permitted to enter Stage 3 if the loosening of public health measures continues to be successful.
In other words, regions will only get to move on from Stage 2 if the loosening of restrictions included in this stage don't result in a major spike in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations or deaths.
So far, case numbers have been gradually decreasing in Ontario, with less than 200 new cases reported for the past five days in a row. This trend will have to remain consistent for quite some time in order for provincial health officials to even consider moving on to Stage 3.
The province-wide state of emergency will also have to be lifted before we can enter Stage 3, and Premier Doug Ford just announced that he intends to extend it one last time until July 15.
When regions in Ontario do finally reach Stage 3, this will first and foremost mean reopening all workplaces responsibly.
A long list of businesses and services — including hair salons, restaurant patios, shopping malls and more — are permitted to reopen under Stage 2, but several non-essential workplaces and offices are to nonethless remain shuttered throughout this period.
When we reach Stage 3, all will be allowed to open as long as safety measures are in place.
Entering this stage will also mean further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings. Currently, the gathering limit in the whole of the province is 10 people, while weddings and funerals are allowed to host up to 50 guests. These limits will increase in the next stage.
But even once Stage 3 is upon us, the government says large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.
On top of that, the government will continue to implement protections for vulnerable populations and recommend the practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.
It's also important to note that there's no guarantee that the path to Stage 3 will be linear.
"Each stage will last for approximately two-to-four-week periods to allow for close monitoring of any impacts or potential resurgence of cases," notes the government's framework.
After each two-to-four-week period, the Chief Medical Officer of Health may either advise to reapply or tighten certain public health measures in response to a surge in cases or outbreaks, maintain the status quo and continue close monitoring of impacts, or progress to the next two-to-four-week stage.
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