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Region to remain in Stage 2 as province heads into Stage 3

While other municipalities are entering Stage 3 of the province’s recovery plan, Durham Region will remain in Stage 2.

The Ontario government has announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place.

As Ontario continues down the path to economic recovery, decisions on which regions will enter Stage 3 and when will be made in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and other health experts and based on trends of key public health indicators.

“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” says Premier Doug Ford. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”

Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Durham Regional Chair John Henry points out the region was about a week behind during Stage 2 as well.

“It’s not just Durham. There’s other locations in the GTHA. We were one week behind during Stage 2,” he explains. It’s about doing due diligence and getting where we need to be.”

Henry points out the region’s COVID-19 numbers are going down every day, and he looks forward to being “part of the next step.”

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

– Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;

– Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;

– Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.

Durham Region will remain in Stage 2 and will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

Williams, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19:

– 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.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, and to see which regions will remain in Stage 2, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3.

“Having seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the province safely re-started over 90 per cent of economic activity with Stage 2, we now have the confidence to move certain regions into Stage 3, including expanding the size of gatherings indoors and outdoors,” says Minister of Health Christine Elliott. “As we do, it’s never been more important for all Ontarians to continue to practise physical distancing and wear a face covering when doing so is a challenge, such as safely visiting a favourite local store. Together, we’ll continue to move Ontario forward.”

As the province gradually enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place.

Beginning on July 27, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Providing child care for parents is critical so that, as more Ontarians return to work, they can do so with confidence in knowing that their children are being safely cared for,” says Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “Child care is an integral enabler to the continued restart of Ontario’s economy, and we remain committed to working to ensure child care remains accessible, affordable and, most importantly, safe as we gradually increase capacity of Ontario’s child care sector.”

The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released over 170 guidance resources at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including fitness, restaurant and food services, and the performing arts ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. Guidance will be available for all spaces permitted to open in Stage 3. As they prepare to reopen, employers are being advised by the province to review and implement appropriate measures to help protect their communities.

“As we enter Stage 3 and continue on the path to economic recovery, it is more important than ever that we support business owners and workers,” says Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli. “That is why we launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment suppliers so they can keep their employees, customers and clients safe as they resume their operations. By continuing to work together, we will ensure Ontario is prepared and well-supplied for any future challenges.”

Based on community needs, some municipalities and local medical officers of health have implemented more restrictions or requirements, such as mandatory face coverings in commercial establishments and all indoor public places.

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