/Phase 1 to begin on Friday

Phase 1 to begin on Friday

By Chad Ingram

Phase 1 of the Ford government’s Roadmap to Reopen COVID-19 economic recovery plan is poised to begin Friday, June 11, amid rising vaccination rates and declining confirmed cases of the virus.

As of Sunday, June 6, 72 per cent of Ontarians had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the province’s number of new confirmed cases on Monday was 525, the lowest daily count since Sept. 27. The new confirmed case count in Haliburton County on Monday was two.

“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” Premier Doug Ford said in a release on Monday. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario. As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines.”

Previously, the government had anticipated entering the first phase of a three-phased reopening plan on June 14, pending case counts and at least 60 per cent of Ontarians having received a first vaccine dose.

The changes, which will come into affect at 12:01 a.m. on June 11, mean that limits for outdoor social gathering and organized events will increase to 10 people. Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger families, will be permitted. Outdoor attractions such as zoos, historic sites and gardens can open with COVID-19 safety restrictions in place, and outdoor fitness classes and sports training may resume, with a maximum of 10 people.

Non-essential retail businesses can open to 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the types of goods that may be sold. Essential and “other select” retailers may open to 25 per cent capacity, a release from the province indicates. Day camps can open with safety protocols in place, and overnight camping can resume at Ontario campgrounds and parks.