Ontario reports 159 new COVID-19 cases as gyms, restaurants reopen in Step 3

Ontario reported 159 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as public health restrictions on businesses and gatherings were further rolled back as the province entered Step 3 of its reopening plan.

Step 3 allows gyms, cinemas, theatres, museums and other venues to reopen for indoor service.

Dining inside restaurants is also allowed and night clubs can reopen with capacity limits.

Social gatherings of up to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors are also permitted.

The province is entering Step 3 of the reopening plan a few days earlier than scheduled based on high COVID-19 vaccination rates and other positive public health trends.

A full list of what kinds of activities will be allowed in Step 3 can be found here.

The changes took effect at 12:01 a.m., with rules around masks and physical distancing still in place.

Victoria Wickett, the owner of Bomb Fitness in the east end of Toronto, was able to open her two locations after 16 months of being closed to clients due to the pandemic. The gym offered online classes and also outdoor classes when it resumed earlier this summer, but the extended closure led to the loss of 70 per cent of her clientele.

“It was really devastating for us. We had to lay off several of our staff. We had to change all of our business operations and not being able to have people indoors meant really limited offerings for us,” Wickett said.

“And we couldn’t promote our gym to anyone new. No one wants to join a gym in the middle of a pandemic. That was the real challenge for us, not being able to get new members in,” she added.

The majority of remaining restrictions in Ontario will be lifted as soon as 21 days after Step 3, the province has said.

But that will only happen once 75 per cent of people 12 and older have been fully vaccinated and every public health unit has fully vaccinated at least 70 per cent of eligible residents.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health reported the deaths of 10 more people with COVID-19 this morning, pushing the official toll to 9,285.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:

Seven-day average of daily cases: 151

Tests completed: 28,126

Provincewide test positivity rate: 0.6 per cent

Active cases: 1,403

Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 158, the fewest since late November 2020; 112 ICU patients needed a ventilator to breathe

Vaccinations: 168,616, roughly 56,000 fewer shots than were reported last Friday

GoodLife Fitness says it won’t require staff or members to be vaccinated. Are you a member? Tell us what you think of the policy for an upcoming story. Email: COVID@cbc.ca

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