By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County along with most parts of Ontario will enter Stage 3 of the provincial government’s phased COVID-19 recovery process as of 12:01 a.m. this Friday July 17.
Premier Doug Ford made that announcement during his daily press briefing on July 13.
Numbers of daily new cases of the virus have been on the decline in the province for about five weeks with 116 new cases confirmed Monday and remaining active COVID-19 cases throughout Ontario just below 1500. There have been some 2720 deaths from the virus in the province with nearly 33000 recovered cases.
“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners individuals and families right across the province” Ford said in a press release. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”
Stage 3 will allow most types of businesses to re-open with physical distancing protocols in place including dine-in restaurants bars casinos gyms and recreational facilities.
“Almost 99 per cent of the local economy will be available to re-open” said Finance Minister Rod Phillips during Monday’s press conference.
“We may be in Stage 3 for a while but our economic recovery has already started” Phillips said.
The number of people permitted at a gathering will increase from 10 to 100 for an outdoor gathering and 50 for an indoor gathering. Physical distancing of two metres is to be maintained between people at these gatherings. Social bubbles – groups of family or friends with whom close contact is made – is still not to exceed 10.
“Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events such as community events or gatherings concerts live shows festivals conferences sports and recreational fitness activities fundraisers fairs festivals or open houses” reads a press release from the province. “A two-metre distance must still be maintained at such events.”
Locations such as amusement and water parks buffet-style food services karaoke rooms overnight camps for children saunas and steam rooms or gaming tables at casinos are still deemed too high-risk to reopen in Stage 3. Dancing at restaurants and bars remains prohibited except by hired performers following specific requirements.
The province’s most urban areas including Toronto York Region Durham Region Niagara Region Halton Hamilton and Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 for the time being. The provincial government will be providing updates each Monday about which regions may enter Stage 3.