Ontario to move to Step 2 of reopening ahead of schedule allowing for haircuts, indoor gatherings

TORONTO — The Ontario government has confirmed that the province will enter the second stage of its COVID-19 reopening strategy two days ahead of schedule.

This means that starting Wednesday, people will once again be able to host indoor gatherings of up to five people, meet with up to 25 people outdoors, and finally, after months of closure, book personal care services like hair cuts.

Outdoor performances and team sports can also resume and outdoor attractions such as water parks are allowed to reopen.

“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news release issued Thursday.

The further loosening of public health restrictions means that outdoor dining capacity limits can increase to six people per table, essential retail can double to 50 per cent capacity and non-essential retail can move to 25 per cent capacity, up from 15.

Also, shopping malls can reopen with restrictions and larger indoor religious services, like wedding and funeral services, can resume at 25 per cent capacity.

READ MORE: What’s allowed in each step of Ontario’s three-tiered reopening plan?

CTV News Toronto reported Wednesday that Ford was considering moving up the second step of economic reopening by two days.

Prior to the announcement, the province had expected to enter Step 2 on July 2 at the earliest.

In order to enter Step 2 of the reopening strategy, the government said it needed to see 70 per cent of adults with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks.

According to data released by the province, as of Wednesday, over 76 per cent of the population in Ontario above the age of 18 have received their first dose and over 29 per cent have received their second.

Based on Thursday’s announcement, Ontario is expected to enter Step 3 of its reopening plan, which allows for the most lenient of public health restrictions, on July 21 if COVID-19 cases continue to trend downwards and the rate of vaccination remains high.

Incoming chief medical officer of health to hold first COVID-19 update 

The Ontario doctor who is set to take over the helm of the province’s COVID-19 response will hold his first news conference today.

Dr. Kieran Moore, who previously served as the top doctor for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health, has been working with Ontario’s current Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, since June 7 to ensure a smooth transition.

Williams, who has been largely guiding the government’s public health restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was supposed to retire in September of 2020, but that date was delayed by several months.

In a separate news release issued Thursday, the province says that Moore will be holding weekly updates every Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Ontario’s COVID-19 response, alongside Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe and Dr. Dirk Huyer, Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response.

Previously, the province had been holding COVID-19 media briefings every Monday and Thursday.

Moore will officially assume the role of chief medical officer of health on June 26.

CTVNewsToronto.ca will stream the news conference live at 10:15 a.m.

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