By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County along with most parts ofOntario will enter Stage 3 of the provincial government's phased COVID-19recovery process as of 12:01 a.m. this Friday July 17.
Premier Doug Ford made that announcementduring his daily press briefing on July 13.
Numbers of daily new cases of the virushave been on the decline in the province for about five weeks with 116 newcases confirmed Monday and remaining active COVID-19 cases throughout Ontariojust below 1500. There have been some 2720 deaths from the virus in theprovince with nearly 33000 recovered cases.
"Our success in reducing the spread ofCOVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most ofthe province is a testament to the hard work of business owners individualsand families right across the province" Ford said in a press release."So many have stepped up and played by the rules demonstrating that wecan restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a bigdifference. Now more than ever we must continue to follow the public healthadvice to preserve the progress we have made together."
Stage 3 will allow most types of businessesto reopen with physical distancing protocols in place includingdine-in restaurants bars casinos gyms and recreational facilities.
“Almost 99 per cent of the local economywill be available to re-open” said Finance Minister Rod Phillips duringMonday's press conference.
“We may be in Stage 3 for a while but oureconomic recovery has already started” Phillips said.
The number of people permitted at agathering will increase from 10 to 100 for an outdoor gathering and 50 for anindoor gathering. Physical distancing of two metres is to be maintained betweenpeople at these gatherings. Social bubbles – groups of family or friends withwhom close contact is made – is still not to exceed 10.
“Public gathering limits apply to indoorand outdoor events such as community events or gatherings concerts liveshows festivals conferences sports and recreational fitness activitiesfundraisers fairs festivals or open houses” reads a press release from theprovince. “A two-metre distance must still be maintained at such events.”
Locations such as amusement and waterparks buffet-style food services karaoke rooms overnight camps for childrensaunas and steam rooms or gaming tables at casinos are still deemed toohigh-risk to reopen in Stage 3. Dancing at restaurants and bars remains prohibitedexcept by hired performers following specific requirements.
The province's most urban areas includingToronto York Region Durham Region Niagara Region Halton Hamilton andWindsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 for the time being. The provincial governmentwill be providing updates each Monday about which regions may enter Stage 3.