stage 3

Here are some of the new rules and restrictions for after Step 3 in Ontario

With Step 3 due to be over in a  week (or perhaps a little later), it's time for Ontario to prepare for what comes next: a full reopening — albeit with some restrictions in place in certain situations when necessary as deemed by public health officials.

Though people might think twice about pre-COVID practices like blowing out birthday candles, sharing drinks or holding on to handrails in public spaces, the new iteration of normal will be the closest we've been to pre-pandemic life in more than a year.

There will be no more capacity limits for businesses or events, no more gathering limits and no more need for active screening for the virus before entering a business.

The provincial government confirmed to multiple news outlets on Friday that "the vast majority of public health measures" will be nixed once Step 3 is over, putting us not in a Step 4, but in a permanent-for-the-foreseeable-future "exit step" of sorts.

But, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the mandate for face coverings in indoor public spaces will remain in place provincewide, even for those who are immunized — unlike our neighbours such as B.C.Saskatchewan and Alberta, where masks are now optional.

This is, to some degree, due to the fact that the Delta variant is now the primary strain in Ontario, unlike in other locales.

Businesses will also need to have a safety plan in place and conduct passive screening in the form of signage warning customers of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Those in the hospitality industry will have to continue to space out tables so patrons are at least two metres between people who don't live together, unless separated by plexiglass or another barrier, and will also have to keep acquiring personal information for potential contact tracing.

And, all businesses will need to ensure they are operating "in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting," per regulations just made under the Reopening Ontario Act.

"We're gonna stay vigilant here. We're gonna make sure that we continue with the masks," Ford said at a press conference at Ontario Place on Friday.

He also reiterated the need to hit vaccination targets of 80 per cent of eligible residents 12 and over with at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and 75 per cent with two doses — with no public health region having fewer than 70 per cent of its eligible residents fully vaxxed — to proceed into the exit step.

As per the latest numbers, approximately 81 per cent of eligible Ontarians 12 and over have received at least one dose of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 inoculation, with 69 per cent having received both jabs.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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