step 3 ontario

Ontario will finally release the plan for exiting Step 3 of reopening on Friday

After more than four months of languishing in Step 3 of Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen, the provincial government is finally set to announce formal plans for exiting this long and final round of pandemic restrictions.

"Tomorrow we will be releasing Ontario's plan to safely reopen and manage COVID-19 for the long term," confirmed a representative from Minister of Health Christine Elliott's office on Thursday to blogTO.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore will be joining the announcement, a time for which has yet to be released.

It is not yet clear exactly when or what will change when Ontario exits the framework to a new version of normal, but officials have said that some public health restrictions, such as indoor masking, will carry on until further notice.

"The majority of public health measures will be lifted," reads the government's website in reference to exiting the roadmap. "A small number of measures will remain in place."

Premier Doug Ford confirmed last Friday that plans for exiting Step 3 were being finalized, telling reporters at Queen's Park that updated travel guidance would be coming well ahead of the holiday season and that any future lockdowns would — if necessary — be "localized, tailored and aimed at limiting disruptions to businesses and families."

Ford credited the successful rollout of Ontario's vaccine passport program and the willingness of (most) residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for allowing officials to be ready for exiting pandemic mode.

"Because so many of you have rolled up your sleeves, we're now able to finalize our plans to exit Step 3 of the Roadmap Reopen and cautiously lift more public health measures," said the premier on Friday.

"The work began months ago and we're finalizing the plan now, including where and when we may need to reapply measures should they be required to stop a surge in transmission."

As of today, 83 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over have received two doses of a Health Canada-approved vaccine, while four per cent remain at one dose only, and 13 per cent are unvaccinated.

Under Step 3, gyms and recreational fitness facilities have indoor capacity limits of up to 50 per cent of normal levels, as long as every person present can maintain at least two metres from one another.

Restaurants don't have specific limits but must keep a physical distance of at least two metres between all groups unless barriers are present.

Indoor food or drink establishments with dance facilities, such as nightclubs and restobars, can only operate at 25 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is less.

Caps were lifted on Sept. 25 for many indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required for entry, including sports stadiums, banquet halls, theatres and commercial film or TV sets.

Business owners and patrons have been relying on PDF vaccine receipts since Sept. 22 to enter non-essential businesses such as gyms and restaurants. They can now download "enhanced vaccine certificates" with QR codes to be used with the Verify Ontario app, which launches in earnest tomorrow, on Friday, October 22.

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario Photography

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