Ontario will move to the third stage of its reopening plan next Friday – several days ahead of schedule – allowing gyms and restaurants to open indoor operations and larger gatherings to take place outside.
The government said it has met its COVID-19 vaccination targets for Step 3, and other health indicators have improved enough to allow for the early move.
Premier Doug Ford thanked Ontarians who have been administering and receiving vaccines, saying they’ve helped the province move ahead faster.
“While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all,” he said in a statement announcing the news Friday.
Face coverings and physical distancing requirements will remain in place during Step 3.
Indoor gatherings and public events are limited to 25 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people with some exceptions.
Step 3 allow gyms to reopen to 50 per cent capacity indoors. Sports facilities can invite spectators in to 50 per cent capacity indoors, or 1,000 people, and 75 per cent spectator capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people.
Indoor dining can also resume, with no limits on the number of people per table, as long as physical distancing rules are in effect.
Religious services and other ceremonies can resume indoors with physical distancing rules.
Capacity is expanding for retail stores and personal care services like salons, allowing as many people inside that can maintain a distance of two metres.
Concert venues, cinemas and theatres can also open indoors to 50 per cent capacity or a maximum limit of 1,000 people, whichever adds up to fewer people.
Outdoor venues for such activities can open up to 75 per cent capacity and a limit of 5,000 people for unseated events or 15,000 people for events with fixed seating.
Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos bingo halls and amusement parts are allowed to open to 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent outdoors.
Ontario reported 183 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and nine more deaths linked to the virus.