By Mike Baker
The next step in Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery will be ushered in on Friday, July 16 in a move that will see indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities, cinemas, museums and casinos reopen, and restrictions removed for all indoor dining, retail and personal care businesses.
In an announcement on Friday, July 9 Premier Doug Ford said he had no problems easing restrictions a few days early – Ontario was originally slated to move to Step 3 on July 21 – due to the province’s strong vaccination numbers, with around 79 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and more than 50 per cent fully vaccinated as of Friday.
“We will have this province booming, similar to what we had before,” Ford promised in his remarks.
As of Friday, indoor social gatherings and events can run with up to 25 people in attendance, outdoor social gatherings and events can have up to 100 people attend, and large religious services and other ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals, can happen indoors with physical distancing measures in place.
Indoor dining can resume with no set limit on the number of people per table or in the restaurant, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Nightclubs and similar businesses will also be permitted to reopen, with a maximum of 250 people, or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is fewer, allowed inside.
Gyms can reopen at 50 per cent capacity, while indoor spectator events, such as sports games and concerts, are capped at 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, depending on which number is smaller. Outdoor spectator limits are capped at 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 people, depending on which number is smaller.
All retail operations can open to whatever capacity limit still allows individuals to maintain two metres of distance between other people, with similar rules in place for personal care services such as barber shops, spas and salons.
Real estate open houses will also be allowed to resume, with capacity limits based on maintaining a safe social distance between attendees.
For the first time in months, indoor cinemas and theatres will also be able to open, albeit at 50 per cent capacity, or a maximum of 1,000 people. Museums, galleries, historical sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos, bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions are permitted to open at 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.