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Ontario opens some outdoor amenities, announces provincial reopening roadmap

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: The Ontario government provided a three-step process to reopening the province from lockdown, and announced a plan to reopen outdoor recreational amenities, on Thursday, May 20th.

As of Saturday, May 22nd, several recreational amenities could reopen, with restrictions, such as physical distancing. These outdoor spaces include: golf courses, driving ranges, tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields and skate parks.

“No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures, under the province wide emergency brake, will remain in effect,” a provincial press release explained.

Provincial officials also outlined their roadmap to reopening.

“Similar to the [United Kingdom], Quebec and Saskatchewan, we are taking a gradual and phased approach, based on hitting vaccination targets,” Premier Doug Ford said.

The provincial press release explained, step one will see the province focus “on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds, where the risk of transmission is lower” and allow “retail with restrictions.” In this step, outdoor gatherings will be expanded to allow up to 10 people and outdoor dining will be allowed, “with up to four people per table.” Non-essential retail stores will be allowed to operate at 15 percent capacity.

Step two will see the province “further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn.” Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed in this step, as well as: outdoor sports and leagues; overnight camps; personal care services, where face coverings can be worn (but with capacity limits); and indoor religious services “or ceremony gatherings at 15 percent capacity.”

The last step on the roadmap will focus on “expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn.” These areas include: indoor sports facilities, casinos and bingo halls, indoor dining, art galleries, museums and libraries.

“Any decision will be made with the utmost caution. The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days. This will allow us to evaluate any impacts on key indicators, and determine whether the province is ready to safely move to the next step in this plan,” Health Minister Christine Elliott explained.

Provincial government officials expect the province will enter step one during the week of June 14th.

“With this roadmap, it is clear there are brighter days ahead, and there is hope for a more open and safe summer,” Minister Elliott said.

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