The Government of Ontario has announced that the province will officially enter Step 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan on July 16.
The move, which allows for indoor dining and gyms to reopen, is the final stage of the province’s three-step plan. So, what happens next?
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that the province will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days or until key public health indicators are met.
These include having 80% of residents aged 12 and older partially vaccinated and 75% fully immunized. Once these thresholds are met, the province can exit Step 3.
At that time, the “vast majority” of public health and workplace safety measures can be lifted. These include indoor and outdoor capacity limits and gathering restrictions.
Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including passive screening for COVID-19, such as posting a sign. Businesses will still need to have a safety plan as well.
“All of the steps, the decision making, has been driven by data. The immunization rates, primarily,” Moore said on July 9. “We will follow the data as we’ve done before.”
“If it comes [to an end] earlier, it would only be thanks to all Ontarians who’ve been able to limit the spread of the virus, the impact on the hospitals, and achieve the immunization targets that we set out.”
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If any of Ontario’s 34 public health units are faced with an outbreak, Moore said Ontario would work with them individually rather than placing restrictions on the entire province.
He also noted that the mandatory mask mandate might soon come to an end, too.
“As for the fall, we don’t anticipate providing any regulatory requirement to wear masks if we can keep COVID-19 under control,” Moore said.
He noted that he would still advise people to wear a face-covering in public throughout the winter to protect vulnerable individuals who can’t be vaccinated.
“At a personal level [my advice] will be to continue to wear the mask throughout the fall until we get real, clear guidance that we’ve limited the spread of COVID-19.”
To date, Ontario has seen 546,804 COVID-19 cases and 9,237 deaths.