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All You Need to Know About Stage 3 of Ontario’s Reopening

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*This blog has been updated as of July 29, 2020.

Ontario is currently in Stage 3 of reopening of its economy. Based on the daily case count and other key public health indicators, 24 of Ontario’s 34 public health units entered Stage 3 from July 17, 2020.

Of the 10 remaining regions, 7 moved to Stage 3 by July 24. Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the rest of the province from July 31, 2020. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will remain in Stage 2 till it meets the public health criteria for further reopening.

What businesses and public spaces can reopen in Stage 3?

Almost all businesses and public spaces can reopen in Stage 3. This includes gyms, playgrounds, movie theatres and dine-in services at restaurants and bars. All such businesses and services must observe physical distancing, health and safety measures and the limits on size of gatherings. Where possible, businesses are encouraged to let employees continue working from home.

What facilities are not permitted to open in Stage 3?

Certain high-risk public spaces and activities likely to draw large crowds — and where health and safety measures will be hard to implement — will not be permitted to open yet. These include:

  • Buffet-style food services
  • Amusement parks and water parks
  • Private karaoke rooms
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
What about the Greater Toronto Area?

The Greater Toronto Area and other parts of Southern Ontario gradually moved into Stage 3. The following regions entered Stage 3 on July 24:

  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • York Region Public Health

Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will move to Stage 3 on July 31. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will remain in Stage 2 till it meets the public health criteria for further reopening.

What are the new limits on size of gatherings?

Irrespective of the stage of reopening, only 10 people are allowed in a social circle. A social circle is a group of up to 10 people who can meet without physical distancing.

While indoor gatherings can go up to a maximum of 50 people, the outdoor gathering limit is a maximum of 100 people. Ontarians must keep a physical distance of two metres from people outside their social circle at all such gatherings.

When organizing events, businesses and public spaces must observe the indoor and outdoor gathering limits. Staff, including performers and crews, will not count towards gathering limits. The organizers cannot combine indoor and outdoor spaces to increase the gathering limit.

For weddings, funerals and religious services, the guideline remains the same as before. People can fill up to 30% of the capacity of a particular room.

Where do gathering limits apply?

Gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor places and activities where crowds are expected. These include:

  • Social gatherings such as parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions, etc
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
  • Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
  • Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
  • Festivals
  • Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, tutoring)
  • Movie theatres
  • Real estate open houses
  • Sporting and racing events
  • Tour and guide services (including boat tours)

As in Stage 2, drive-in and drive-through venues don’t have to follow gathering limits.

What restrictions and conditions must restaurants, bars and nightclubs observe?

Restaurants, bars, concession stands and other food and drink establishments may resume indoor dine-in services. Nightclubs will remain shut except to provide food or drink services to customers. All such establishments must:

  • Ensure customers are seated while eating or drinking.
  • Not serve buffets
  • Arrange tables to have a distance of at least two metres between patrons, unless they are separated by plexiglass barriers.
  • Ensure dancing is performed only by people they have hired and who follow the specific requirements. Singing or a musical performance by an individual or group is allowed at a restaurant or bar with restrictions, such as barriers and physical distancing.
  • Allow karaoke only outside of private karaoke rooms, which are not allowed to open in Stage 3. Ensure that physical distancing, health and safety protocols such as barriers and cleaning and disinfecting of equipment is implemented.

The rule of physical distancing between customers from different households or social circles also also applies to food trucks, food courts, concession stands and tours, such as tastings at wineries.

What are the restrictions and conditions that personal care service providers must follow?

Personal care services, such as hair salons, spas, tanning salons, resumed services in Stage 2. Besides services already allowed in Stage 2, they can now perform services such as facials, eyelash extensions and eyebrow grooming. But customers must continue to wear face masks or coverings except when getting their face groomed. All staff must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

As far as possible the personal care service provider must operate by appointment only. They must also keep a record of contact information for all customers to help in contact tracing in case there is an outbreak. The establishment must ensure there is physical distancing between clients by, for eg, restricting the number of people on the premises at a given time.

What are the restrictions and conditions for reopening for gyms and fitness centres?

Sports facilities and recreational fitness centres such as community centres, gyms, etc., can open in Stage 3. When they resume services they must:

  • Observe physical distancing, except if playing a team sport or during personal training.
  • Keep the indoor gathering limit of 50 people in mind. The number of people allowed in areas with exercise machines or in classes or organized activities should be limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing. Gathering limits do not apply in all other areas, such as tennis courts, pools and rinks.
  • Assign spaces for organized fitness classes by marking circles on the floor to or show where each person should exercise.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment between user sets or at the end of a game.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect the washrooms, showers, locker rooms, change rooms or similar facilities made available to the public.
What about businesses that are unable to reopen under Stage 3 restrictions?

The Ontario government suggests such businesses and services should visit ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. The plan should include details on steps businesses and services will implement to keep customers and employees safe.

Need help reopening your workplace under Stage 3 restrictions?

For advice on health and safety policies during the pandemic, call an expert today: 1 (833) 247-3652.