Ontario residents, rejoice! We’re officially entering Step 2 of the provincial government’s reopening plan on June 30 — a few days earlier than scheduled — thanks to fast-rising vaccination rates that have now surpassed the targets not only to leave Step 1, but to enter Step 3.
Unfortunately, we won’t be going straight from Step 1 to Step 3, despite our outstanding progress in getting vaccinated. But Step 2 is nothing to sneeze at.
You’ll finally be able to get a haircut, play outdoor sports and socialize with your friends inside, among other liberties, as of next Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.
“With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve, the provincewide vaccination rate now surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, and on the recommendation of the the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving the province into Step 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, 2021,” announced the province Thursday morning.
“In order to enter Step Two of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a strong level of protection against COVID-19,” it continues.
“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of June 23, 2021, over 76 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 18 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 29 per cent have received their second dose.”
Reiterating comments he made during a press conference on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford thanked “the tireless work of our health care heroes and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout” for allowing Ontario to advance into Step 2 ahead of schedule.
The move was to be expected, based on the fact that we entered Step 1 a few days earlier than planned, but it also sets a precedent in that Ontario will be breaking its own “21 days per step” rule.
No estimated date for entering Step 3 has been floated, but the province did say that Ontario “may remain in Step 2 for a period of approximately 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to Step 2 on key public health and health care indicators.”
“When it is determined to be safe, the province will promptly move to Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen,” said the province on Thursday morning.
Step 2 of the province’s three-part Roadmap to Reopen plan “focuses on the resumption of more outdoor activities and limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn, with other restrictions in place.”
Per the government, this includes (but is not limited to):
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
- Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people;
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity;
- Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions;
- Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions;
- Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room;
- Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance;
- Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions;
- Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
- Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity;
- Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions.