Ontario Premier Doug Ford has unveiled the plan for loosening the province's tough coronavirus pandemic rules. "That is the only way it will work".
Ontario's stay-at-home orders are set to expire as of June 2, although, the provincial emergency brake and its restrictions will remain in effect.
The measure closed thousands of businesses, moved schools online and shut outdoor recreational facilities.
The news comes as Ontario reports a record-high number of COVID-19 vaccine doses given out in a single day.
While the first step of Ontario's "Roadmap to Reopen" is not expected to begin for a few weeks, the province will allow outdoor amenities including golf courses and tennis courts to reopen over the weekend. Experts had roundly criticized the province's closure of the amenities, saying outdoor activities were important for physical and mental health.
The Ford government revealed what it calls its "Roadmap to Reopen" on Thursday. "That's what this framework is created to do, to provide certainty and predictability".
The strain first identified in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7, remains the most common variant of concern (VOC) in the province. That was hinted at by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams when he said the province is looking at a dial-up approach to reopening in order to avoid a fourth wave before the third wave is over.
The outdoor-gathering limit will be raised to 10 people, and outdoor dining will be allowed, with a limit of four people per table. Indoor personal-care services like hair and nail salons can operate with masking and capacity limits, and indoor religious gatherings will be permitted at 15 per cent capacity.
The final stage will expand indoor settings, allow larger numbers of people and deal with settings where masks can't be worn.
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Several lines have said they will make vaccination a requirement for everyone - or at least every adult - on board. She said "If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing the things you stopped doing because of the pandemic".
"Because there are a wide variety of metrics involved in addition to the vaccination rates, it is possible that we could reach the level of getting to stage one before June 14, but we are giving that as an approximate date right now", she said.
Ford's government took heavy criticism for reopening too soon in March, which resulted in the punishing third wave. Ford said there is now no consensus on when schools should resume in-person learning.
Officials said the key to the reopening is the expanded vaccine rollout.
Under Ontario's Reopening Act, the province will allow for the resumption of multiple outdoor recreational activities.
"We just have to get at the table and make sure everyone agrees on this", Ford said.
The group predicted that a mid-June reopening will see daily infections drop below 1,000 cases next month and continue to decline through the summer.
It will also depend on positive public health and health-system trends. He said any reopening plans will bring challenges and people must remain cautious.
The province recorded 357 cases today, the lowest since February 15, along with three more deaths.