On April 27, 2020, Ontario released a Framework for Reopening Our Province. This Framework contemplates the gradual reopening of the province in three stages, with each stage lasting for approximately two-to-four weeks to permit close monitoring of any impacts or potential resurgences of COVID-19 cases.

Following the successful loosening of public health measures in Stage 1 and Stage 2, Ontario announced on July 13, 2020, that beginning on Friday, July 17, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., it will take a regional approach to entering Stage 3.

What will reopen in Stage 3?

Subject to ensuring that appropriate health and safety measures are in place, and limits on the size of gatherings (see below), in Stage 3:

  • Almost all businesses and public spaces will gradually reopen, with public health and workplace safety restrictions in place.
  • Some high-risk venues and activities will remain closed until they can safely resume operations.
  • Indoor and outdoor gathering limits will be increased (see below).
  • Physical distancing will remain a requirement for all people not from the same household or social circle.

Physical distancing will remain a requirement for people not from the same household or social circle.

What will not reopen in Stage 3?

The following high-risk places and activities will not reopen:

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

Stage 3 gathering limits

  • Indoor gathering limits increase to a maximum of 50 people, subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people, subject to physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.

Which regions will be the first to open in Stage 3?

The government will decide when it is safe for each region of Ontario to be permitted to enter Stage 3 in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health officials, and based on criteria such a virus spread and containment, health system capacity, public health system capacity and incidence-tracking capacity.

The following public health unit regions will be the first to enter Stage 3 on July 17, 2020:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Which regions will remain in Stage 2?

The following regions will remain in Stage 2 while the government assesses their readiness to move into Stage 3:

  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Peel Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

Up-to-date information about the Stage 3 status of each region is available here.

Reopening proposals

Businesses and sectors that are unable to open or are experiencing difficulties operating under Stage 3 restrictions may visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal, which should include details on steps they will implement to keep patrons and workers safe.

We will follow the government's announcements about additional regions that will be permitted to enter Stage 3, and will provide updates as the announcements are made.

Originally published 16 July, 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.