open ontario

This is what's open in Ontario right now as part of Step 2

What's open in Ontario now that we've moved into Step 2 of the province's 3-step reopening framework is a whole spate of businesses that have been shuttered for months, while some that have already been operating will get to do so with less prohibitive restrictions in place.

Hair and nail salons, tattoo shops, and other establishments offering personal care services are now able to reopen for the first time since as far back as November, bar and restaurant patios will be able to seat more people to a table, and malls will open their doors, among a ton of other changes.

Here are the new things residents of Toronto and Ontario — with the exception of Waterloo —can enjoy as of 12:01 a.m. today in Step 2.

Retail and shopping
  • Capacity limits for "essential" retailers such as supermarkets, drug stores and big box stores have increased from 25 per cent of total capacity in Step 1 to 50 per cent.
  • Capacity limits for "non-essential" retailers such as clothing outlets has likewise increased, going up from 15 per cent of total capacity in Step 1 to 25 per cent.
  • You can now hit up your favourite mall, as "non-essential" retailers do not have to have their own external entrance to reopen.
  • Aforementioned capacity limits for these stores will be in place, along with rules against loitering. Some outlets may also be shutting off certain entrances and screening customers before entry.
Beauty and personal services
  • Hair and nail salons, barber shops, tattoo studios and other businesses offering personal care services can now reopen with a capacity limit of 25 per cent (and other stringent health and safety measures) in place. Only those services that can be performed with a mask on at all times are permitted.
Restaurants and bars
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes can now seat six people from different households at a single table on their patios, as opposed to four people in Step 1. Even more are permitted at a table if all guests reside together, including the addition of one other person who lives alone or is a caregiver to someone in the home.
Sports and fitness
  • Outdoor fitness classes can now have as many participants in them as they want, so long as all those present can stay at least three metres (more than the regular two) apart. This is notably more than the maximum of 10 people in Step 1.
  • Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact will be allowed to resume with restrictions in place, with no limit on the number of people or teams participating.
  • And, outdoor sport facilities can now have up to 25 per cent of their pre-COVID levels of spectators.
Entertainment and amusement
  • Outdoor concert venues, movie theatres and performing arts stages can operate with audiences at 25 per cent capacity.
  • Outdoor horse racing, motor speedways, fairs, rural exhibitions and festivals are all allowed to take place — meaning the CNE may have been cancelled prematurely — with 25 per cent capacity limits along with other sector-specific restrictions.
  • Outdoor amusement and water parks such as Canada's Wonderland can open their gates to 25 per cent of their usual number of guests.
Other changes
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services will be permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room where the event takes place.
  • Summer camps for kids, including overnight camps, can resume full operations, of course in line with current health and safety guidelines.
  • Public libraries can reopen with a 25 per cent capacity limit.
Gathering limits
  • Outdoor social gathering limits have gone from 10 people in Step 1 to a maximum of 25 people from various households.
  • Indoor social gathering limits are now permitted (for the first time since November for places like Toronto), with a maximum of five people from various households.

As we entered both Steps 1 and 2 a few days earlier than planned, there was hope that we could enter Step 3 a little early, too, especially given that we've well surpassed the provincial vaccination rates to do so and that Premier Doug Ford himself suggested it was possible.

Unfortunately, it seems that Ontario's new top doctor is not on board with the idea of having some flexibility around the "21 days between steps" rule of the roadmap.

"We need to be cautious, we need to be prudent and we need that 21 days to be able to understand the impact of opening on our communities," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore at a media briefing on Tuesday.

"I do think a 21-day interval is prudent and I personally don't want to see that shortened because we need to be data-driven in the face of this new enemy [the Delta variant].

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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