ontario step 4

This is what will happen after Step 3 of Ontario's reopening plan

With Friday's announcement that Ontario is advancing to Step 3 of reopening next week, many residents are now wondering about what will come after, and if there will be somo sort of Step 4.

The government does have a solid plan in place for how the province will return to the normal that we've all been desperately hoping for, including how we will proceed from Step 2 to Step 3, and then beyond after that.

Though there is temptation to call it "Step 4," the province's new Chief Medical Officer of Health has reiterated that the roadmap to reopening is a three-step framework only, and that the period following Step 3 will simply be "a full opening with some public health measures, if appropriate."

"There was not ever a contemplation of a fourth step — it is a gradual reopening of Ontario and our economy," Dr. Kieran Moore said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

"If [we hit vaccination targets] and other key public health and health system indicators continue to remain stable, then the vast majority of public health and work safety measures will be lifted... only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan."

Though it's not officially a step of its own, we still have to hit inoculation thresholds of 80 per cent of residents 12 and over with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75 per cent of those 12 and over with two doses provincewide — with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of its population fully vaxxed —before we can leave Step 3, which by the book must last at least 21 days.

But, we've entered all three steps thus far earlier than planned, including this most recent one, which we're going into five days early at 12:01 a.m. on July 16.

Based on the 21-day rule, the province could hope to graduate out of Step 3 and into what is essentially a full reopening with no capacity limits anywhere by Aug. 6.

But, Moore acknowledges that it may come even earlier than that given our "strong and positive" vaccination rates.

"By the act it's 21 days, but we will follow the data as we did before," he said.

"If it comes earlier, it will only be thanks to all Ontarians who have been able to limit the spread of the virus, the impacts on the hospitals and achieve the immunization targets that we've set out."

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