Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that more Ontario regions can enter Stage 3 except for Toronto and Peel.
On Monday, Ford said that Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Sarnia-Lambton and York regions will all be permitted to enter Stage 3 on Friday, July 24 at 12:01 am.
That just leaves Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex behind.
Since these three regions were the last to enter Stage 2, it seems to fall into alignment with the province’s regional reopening plan, to wait the full four weeks before these three regions can enter the third and final stage.
“We’re working with communities across the province to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help more businesses safely and responsibly hang up their ‘Open for Business’ sign,” said Ford.
“While we want as many people back to work and taking home a paycheque again as possible, it’s important for everyone ― no matter what stage your community is in ― to remain on guard and keep following the public health advice. By working together, we can keep new case numbers down and ensure all of Ontario can enter Stage 3 when it’s safe to do so.”
According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, officials need about four weeks of data to decide whether it is safe to proceed to the next stage in any given region.
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Toronto and Peel regions only entered Stage 2 on June 24, so there won’t be four weeks of data available until Friday to evaluate.
“We expect that the next group will be the second group that moved into stage two and then Toronto will follow,” Elliott said during a press conference last week.
Ontario will continue to assess trends in the public health indicators to determine when these final public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.
“Building on the success of the regional approach in the previous two stages and based on the positive public health trends we are seeing, we are ready to move more regions across the province into Stage 3,” said Elliott on Monday.
“Entering Stage 3 does not mean the fight against COVID-19 is over. We all must remain vigilant and continue following public health advice to ensure the progress we have made so far in stopping the spread will not be undone.”
Toronto has a seven day moving average of 40 cases with the three regions still accounting for most of the province’s daily coronavirus case count.
In Stage 3, dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness centres, live shows, performing arts centres, casinos, concert venues, recreational facilities, team sports, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses, and tour and guide services can reopen.
And, groups of 50 can congregate indoors and 100 can meet outdoors.
On July 17, 24 of Ontario’s 34 regions entered Stage 3.