Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
On July 9, 2021, Ontario announced that with improvements in key indicators relating to public health and health care, and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing targets, it will be moving all Ontario regional health units to Stage Three of its Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, July 16, 2021. This accelerated reopening is outlined in O.Reg. 521/21, which amended the Steps of Reopening. Ontario was originally scheduled to move to Step Three on July 21, 2021.
What Will be Permitted
Once Ontario moves to Step Three, the conditions established by O. Reg. 520/21, which amends the Rules for Areas in Step 3, will apply. This includes, but is not limited to, the following openings and increases:
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people will be permitted with limited exceptions;
- Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people will be permitted;
- Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services will be permitted with physical distancing;
- Indoor dining will be permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect;
- Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities will open subject to a maximum 50% capacity of the indoor space. Capacity for indoor spectators is 50% of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75% of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less;
- Indoor meeting and event spaces will be permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity to not exceed 50% capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less);
- Essential and non-essential retail will be permitted to open with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
- Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, will be permitted with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, and festivals will be permitted, with capacity to not exceed 50% capacity indoors and 75% capacity outdoors;
- Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted will operate at:
- up to 50% capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less)
- up to 75% capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75% capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
- Real estate open houses will be permitted with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and
- Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).
Removal of Requirement to Ensure Workers Work Remotely
Once Ontario moves to Step Three, the requirement to ensure that workers work remotely (unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site), will be removed.
Face Covering and Physical Distancing
Face covering requirements in indoor public settings will remain in place throughout Step Three and they will also be required in some outdoor public settings. Physical distancing requirements will also remain in place throughout Step Three.
Moving Past Step Three
Ontario will remain in Step Three for at least 21 days and until 80% of the eligible population age 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75% have received their second dose, with no public health unit having less than 70% of their eligible population age 12 and over fully vaccinated. Other key public health and health care indicators must also continue to remain stable.
Once these thresholds are met, most public health and workplace safety measures (e.g., capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings) will be lifted, and only a small number of measures will remain in place (e.g., passive screening via a posted sign, safety plan requirement).