Corp Comm Connects

Ontario is entering the next stage of reopening Wednesday. Haircuts, amusement parks and limited indoor gatherings are back on the table
June 30, 2021

The wait is over. Come Wednesday, most Ontarians can hit up a barbershop, catch a movie at an outdoor cinema and more as the province enters Step Two of its road map to reopening.

The move comes two days sooner than the planned July 2 start date, and just in time for Canada Day, thanks to rising vaccination rates and other key health indicators.

Notably, the Region of Waterloo will stay in Step One due to surging cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant.

Here are the answers to some of your burning questions:

Q: How come we’re entering Step Two early? What are officials looking for?

A: Step Two hinges on at least 70 per cent of adults being vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent fully vaccinated.

More than 77 per cent of people have at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday and 37 per cent are fully vaccinated.

However, with the Delta variant expected to continue surging throughout the summer, Ontario Premier Doug Ford cautioned residents to keep up the effort and get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

“If you haven’t received your first vaccination, please, please go out and get your vaccination,” he said.

Q: What businesses are open? Can I finally shear these pandemic bangs?

A: Respectively, a bunch of stuff and yes! Just as long as you follow the guidelines.

Personal care services -- including barbershops -- can operate so long as masks can be worn at all times and capacity stays below 25 per cent.

Clients will need to book an appointment and keep their face masked the entire time.

Shopping malls are back in business with their stores allowed to open.

Retailers can welcome more customers, with essential retail and liquor stores allowing 50 per cent capacity and non-essential retail 25 per cent. This is upped from 25 per cent for liquor stores and essential retail, and 15 per cent for non-essential retailers in Step One.

Short-term rentals and hotels and motels are open, as they were in Step One. However, indoor communal amenities like pools, saunas and fitness centres remain closed.

Q: What about entertainment? Can I catch a movie?

A: Outdoor cinemas and amusement parks are back, with limited capacity.

Drive-in theatres are already open. Step Two will allow outdoor cinemas to operate at 25 per cent capacity with other restrictions.

Are live events more your thing? Spectators will be allowed for the performing arts, including live music, so long as the venue is outdoors only and capacity is capped at 25 per cent. Other restrictions may apply.

Kids may be thrilled to know outdoor amusement and water parks are reopening with 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions, including on rides. So too are fairs and rural exhibitions, also capped at 25 per cent capacity with other restrictions.

Overnight camps for kids are back in business as well. Day camps have been open since Step One.

You can finally browse at the library again, up to 25 per cent capacity as well as other restrictions.

Casinos and similar gaming establishments are not open. However, horse racing and motor sports are, and spectators are allowed at 25 per cent capacity. Other restrictions may apply.

Q: Boy do I miss my 25 friends. Can I see all of them, preferably in an outdoor setting?

A: Outdoor gatherings will be expanded to a max of 25 people, from 10 people in Step One. For indoor gatherings, it’s a maximum of five people.

Note that retirement homes are exempt from these limits.

You can also grab dinner or drinks with up to six people on the patio, an increase of two from Step One. Outdoor Karaoke is back too -- we can finally embarrass ourselves in public again.

Q: What else is on the way? When can Ontario finally reopen?

A: The soonest Ontario can enter Step Three is July 21. This depends on the vaccination rate and other key health indicators.

According to the reopening framework, the province must stay in each step for at least 21 days.

The vaccination criteria for Step Three is for 70 to 80 per cent of eligible residents to have one shot and 25 per cent fully vaccinated. The province has already surpassed that threshold.