step 1 ontario

Ontario will officially enter Step 1 of reopening on Friday

This Friday, on June 11, Ontario will finally enter Step 1 of the provincial government's Roadmap to Reopening framework, allowing people to grace patios and non-essential retail stores in Toronto once again — a full three days earlier than expected!

PC Minister Steve Clark first confirmed the news publicly, writing on Twitter Monday morning that "Based on Ontario's vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health indicators, our government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, will move the province into Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021."

The province had originally said that all public health regions in Ontario would move together into Step 1 of its latest reopening framework on June 14, at which point the emergency shutdown restrictions we've been under for more than two months now would be lifted.

Premier Doug Ford did hint last week that, should numbers continue to trend in the right direction, we could start to reopen a bit earlier than June 14, but nothing had been confirmed by the province until Monday afternoon.

"Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario's vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions," said Ford in a government release announcing the news.

"The only reason we're able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario."

One of the main criteria for entering Step 1 was that at least 60 per cent of all Ontarians 18+ have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of June 6 at 8 p.m., 72 per cent of the province's adults had been at least partially vaccinated.

The provincial case rate has also been dropping quickly enough for officials to feel comfortable entering Step 1: From May 25 to 31, 2021, the provincial case rate decreased by 35.1 per cent. As of yesterday, 497 COVID patients were in Ontario ICUs, compared to 687 two weeks earlier.

"The province's situation is currently exceeding the best-case scenario presented in recent modelling, which indicated the province would reach below 1,000 new daily infections by June 30, 2021," reads the release. "The province expects these trends to continue over the coming days before entering Step One."

So what does this all mean for us as Ontario residents? Here's a non-exhaustive list of things that will change on Friday, per the provincial government:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions;
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions;
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators; and
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions. 

Ontario must stay in each stage of reopening, including Step 1, for at least 21 days while officials "evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators."

If 70 per cent of adults have been vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent of with two doses at the end of those 21 days and all other key public health improvements are made, Ontario will enter Step 2 of the roadmap, during which personal care services and indoor dining may resume (with restrictions).

"While we have reached the point where we can safely move into Step One, now is not the time to get complacent," said Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, on Monday.

"We must all remain vigilant, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over. By continuing to follow public health advice and measures we can continue to reduce transmission, safeguard health system capacity and save lives."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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