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Hamilton and Halton moving to Stage 3 reopening

CTV is reporting that Hamilton and Halton will be allowed to move to Stage Three of pandemic recovery starting this Friday. That will leave only Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex in Stage Two lockdown. Most of the 135 new cases added today were reported in Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex, all of which are regions not included in the latest stage of reopening.

For the regions who have moved forward to Stage 3, there has been significant increase to social gathering limits. Indoor gathering limits increase from 10 to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor gathering limits increase to a maximum of 100 people.

Physical distancing is still required during any gathering with people from outside an individual’s social circle. The province is not increasing the number of people a person can gather with without physical distancing measures in place.

The government has banned a number of high-risk businesses and activities from resuming in Stage 3, including amusement parks, water parks, buffet-style food services, dancing in restaurants and bars, overnight stays at camps for children, private karaoke rooms, prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports, saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars. Nightclubs are still banned from reopening, except for the purpose of serving food or drinks. Casinos will be allowed to reopen but table games are banned.

Meanwhile, all restaurants, bars, concession stands, and other food and drink establishments are allowed to reopen for indoor dining in Stage 3. Gyms and fitness studios can also reopen with safety protocols in place. Organized sports can also resume, with the exception of contact sports. Playgrounds, community centres and libraries will also reopen. The province will also allow personal support services to resume that involve a customers’ face, such as facials and some piercings.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the province needed more COVID-19 data from the regions who are not heading into Stage 3 before a decision can be made about moving forward.

“There are several other communities that moved into Stage 2 before Toronto did,” Elliott said. “We expect that will happen in the same way because the chief medical officer of health and the public health experts need to see about four weeks of data to understand what is going on locally, to make sure there are no further public health concerns.”

“We expect that the next group will be the second group that moved to Stage 2 will be the second group to move to Stage 3 just because of the time frames that have elapsed and then Toronto will follow.”

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said he hopes all regions will enter Stage 3 by the end of July.

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