step 3 ontario

Ontario is officially moving to Step 3 of reopening and here's what that means

Ontario will enter Step 3 of the provincial government's reopening plan one week from today, officials have confirmed, allowing gyms, movie theatres and indoor restaurants (among other things) to reopen five days ahead of schedule.

"With key public health and healthcare indicators continuing to improve and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing the targets outlined in the province's Roadmap to Reopen, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving the province into Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021," said the Premier's Office in a release issued by the provincial government today.

"Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of July 8, 2021, over 77 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50 per cent have received their second dose."

The threshold to enter Step 3 of the roadmap was to see 70 to 80 per cent of Ontarians 18 and older partially vaccinated, and at least 25 per cent fully vaccinated.

We well surpassed those targets as a province a few weeks ago, but Premier Doug Ford reiterated that his government will continue to push for as many people as possible to get their first and second shots as possible.

"While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all," said Ford on Friday.

As with previous stages, the entire province is scheduled to remain in Step 3 of the roadmap for at least 21 days — though Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore did acknowledge during a press conference this afternoon that things could progress even faster, especially once 80 per cent of people over 12 are partially vaccinated.

It's key to note that face coverings will continue to be required for indoor public settings in Ontario under Step 3 due to threats posed by the Delta variant and other strains of concern.

Below, per the province, is what will change when we graduate into the next step of the roadmap next Friday.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs
  • Indoor dining permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect.
  • Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).
Gyms and spectator sports
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to open subject to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space.
  • Capacity for indoor spectators is 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less.
  • Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less.
Museums and attractions
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.
Concert venues and cinemas
  • Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less).
  • For outdoors, capacity is limited to 75 per cent or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
Shopping and retail
  • Essential and non-essential retail with with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres.
Personal care services
  • Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres.
Social gatherings
  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people with limited exceptions.
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people.
Other services
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted with physical distancing.
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less).
  • Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and

"Ontario has continued to see improvements in key health indicators, allowing the province to move to Step 3 of the Roadmap and safely resume more of the activities we've missed," said Health Minister Christine Elliott on Friday.

"While this is exciting news, we most still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measure we know work and keep us safe. Vaccines remain our ticket out of the pandemic so if you haven’t booked your appointment yet, please do so today."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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