Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that on June 24, Toronto will enter Stage 2 of reopening in response to COVID-19.
The announcement comes following more than three months of city-wide pause across most industries as a result of the pandemic.
Other regions across Ontario have entered Stage 2 over the last couple weeks, but Toronto awaited the green light as new local cases continued to be reported at higher than desired rates.
Now, the city will enter the second stage of reopening alongside Peel Region on Wednesday at 12:01 am — the regions will join the 31 other public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12 and 19.
The decision, made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officers of health, is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.
The region of Windsor-Essex remains in Stage 1 for the time being.
“Today’s announcement is another sign that we continue to make steady progress,” said Ford.
“We have been working hand-in-hand with our municipal partners and local public health units to safely and gradually reopen the province. We will do everything we can to get our final region, Windsor-Essex, into Stage 2 as soon as possible. That’s why we are ramping up testing and inspections on Ontario’s farms to protect workers and keep our food supply chains strong and healthy.”
This step forward means that certain businesses and services will be permitted to reopen in Toronto and Peel once Stage 2 commences.
The affected businesses must follow proper health and safety measures upon opening.
Here are the establishments that can reopen in Toronto as the city enters Stage 2:
- In-service restaurants and bars. This is also applicable to other establishments including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties. Restaurants and bars will only be permitted to provide service in outdoor areas.
- Tattoo parlours, barbershops, hair salons, and beauty salons may also reopen as they fall under the select personal and personal care services permitted by the province.
- Shopping malls may open under existing restrictions, which include food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only.
- Weddings and funerals will also be able to commence, but will require limits on social gatherings to 10 people.
And here are the outdoor reopenings that can happen as Toronto enters Stage 2:
- Bike and walking, bus and boat tours, tasting and winery tours, breweries and distilleries were also added to the list, as well as tour and guide services.
- Outdoor splash pads, wading pools and all swimming pools may open as well as water recreational facilities.
- Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks will also be permitted as well as camping at private campgrounds.
- Only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports will be commencing. However, there will be limits to enable physical distancing.
- Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installation will be reopened.
- Photography, film, and television production activities will be able to start up, but will be limited to enable physical distancing.
Physical distancing measures will still be in place for all gatherings.
“Because of our collective efforts, we continue to make real and significant progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
“As a result, more regions have met the public health criteria to move into Stage 2 and reopen more services for the communities to enjoy. Just as importantly, these efforts to stop the spread have ensured that we aren’t seeing spikes in cases in those regions that have been open for well over a week now.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation in all regions of the province to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.
Although restrictions are being gradually relaxed in Stage 2, the government is strongly recommending that everyone in Ontario follow public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.