The Ontario government has announced that as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, the province will move into Step 1 of its economic reopening plan.
The move to Step 1 has been pushed three days ahead of schedule due to the province’s vaccination rate and declining number of COVID-19 cases.
“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter Step 1 of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” said Premier Doug Ford, in a news release.
To enter Step 1, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 60 per cent of adults with at least one dose. According to the provincial government, as of June 6, 72 per cent of Ontarians 18 and over have received at least one dose, with a total of 10 million doses administered.
As part of Step 1, the government is loosening restrictions around outdoor activities. This includes the reopening of overnight camping in provincial parks and on Crown land, as well as cottage rentals.
Previously, overnight camping was banned at all campsites, with Crown land and provincial parks only open for day-use activities, such as hiking, fishing, biking, and swimming. However, all overnight camping will now be open to the public, with people able to book provincial park campsites through Ontario Parks.
As for cottage rentals, under the province-wide lockdown, they—and other forms of short-term accommodation—were limited to people in need of housing. Now, cottage rentals will be open to anyone looking to book a staycation.
The government has yet to release details on how many people may stay at a cottage rental or whether two or more households may share a rental. The only short-term rental restrictions mentioned in the Step 1 regulations is that: “Any indoor pools, communal steam rooms, saunas or indoor whirlpools, indoor fitness centres, or other indoor recreational facilities that are part of the operation of these businesses, are closed.”
Other activities permitted under Step 1 include:
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people.
- Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres.
- Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room.
- Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold.
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold.
- Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households.
- Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor personal training groups, and outdoor individual/team sport training is permitted with up to 10 people.
- Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
- Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions.
Ontario will stay in Step 1 for 21 days. Assuming cases continue to drop and the vaccination rates reach 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent of adults with two doses, the province will move into Step 2 after those 21 days.
“While we have reached the point where we can safely move into Step 1, now is not the time to get complacent,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a news release. “We must all remain vigilant, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over. By continuing to follow public health advice and measures we can continue to reduce transmission, safeguard health system capacity, and save lives.”