Ontario will begin to ease restrictions on outdoor amenities on May 22, including allowing golf courses and tennis courts to operate, and increasing outdoor gathering limits to five people with social distancing.
The preliminary step is in advance of the province entering a three-stage roadmap for reopening, largely based on Ontario's vaccination rate.
"While we know that now is not yet the moment to reopen, Ontarians deserve to know the path forward on what we will carefully reopen and when, starting with the settings we know are safest," a statement from Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health reads. "Brighter days are ahead and we believe this Roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice."
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott expects to enter the first step of the roadmap on June 14.
Some of the restrictions will be loosened in each steps as follow, with a minimum of 21 days between stages:
ESTIMATED START DATE: JUNE 14, 2021
Step 1: 60 per cent adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
Outdoor dining with up to 4 people per table
Essential retail open at 25 per cent capacity, non-essential retail open at 15 per cent capacity
Day camps can operate
Outdoor pools, splash pads, parks, campsite and campgrounds can open
ESTIMATED EARLIEST START DATE: JULY 5, 2021
Step 2: 70 per cent of adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 20 per cent fully vaccinated
Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people
Indoor gatherings of up to 5 people
Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table
Essential retail open at 50 per cent capacity, non-essential retail open at 25 per cent capacity
Personal care services can open if face coverings can be worn the whole time
Outdoor sports leagues, cinemas, live music, attractions, events can operate
ESTIMATED EARLIEST START DATE: JULY 25, 2021
Step 3: 70 - 80 per cent of adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 25 per cent fully vaccinated
Larger indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allow (no specific numbers at this time)
Indoor dining can resume
Essential and non-essential retail can operate with limited capacity
Indoor seated events, sports facilities, attractions, casinos, bingo halls and all outdoor activities from Step 2 can occur indoors
"As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” a statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford reads.
"While we must remain conscious of the continued threat the virus poses, with millions of Ontarians having received at least their first dose of vaccine we can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals."
Where do schools fall in this plan?
At this point, the Ontario government has not provided any guidance on where schools will fall in this reopening plan, or what threshold needs to be met to bring students back to the classroom.
"Right now we have some differing opinions," Ford said at a press conference on Thursday. "Dr. [David] Williams,...he's in favour of opening the schools, we have a few doctors on the science table that aren't in favour. Then we have the teachers who want to put an injunction in if we move forward."
"We just have to get around the table and make sure we have agreement on this."
The premier also said he is concerned about schools reopening causing an increase in COVID-19 cases in Ontario of up to 11 per cent, according to the latest modelling data.
Medical experts react to Ontario's reopening plan
While Ontarians continue to see how reopening in the province unfolds, some people, including health experts, are already commenting on provincial government's approach to these changes.