QUEEN’S PARK – Golf courses and other outdoor recreation amenities will be allowed to reopen on May 22nd, just in time for the Victoria Day holiday.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at Queen’s Park today (May 20th) while detailing the roll out of his government’s three-step reopening framework.
“I know that these measures came with a great price,” Ford said. “Today we are seeing key positive trends in public health.”
Recreation amenities were closed as part of the provincial Stay-at-Home order issued during the height of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the measures were enacted, hospitalizations and COVID-19 infections have decreased. Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams rescinded the order halting elective surgeries in hospitals in Ontario, allowing those procedures to resume.
Ford said that the province’s vaccination roll out is accelerating an ever-increasing pace, which has contributed the announcement today.
Deputy-Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott called this “road map” a gradual plan to reopen the province.
“Brighter days are ahead and we believe this Roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice,” Elliott said.
Beginning May 22nd, outdoor recreation including golf courses, driving ranges, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks can reopen. No outdoor sports or recreation classes are permitted. Outdoor limits on gatherings will also expand to five people, including people from different households. All other physical distancing and public health restrictions remain in place.
To reopen the province after the emergency orders expire, the Ontario government is launching a three-step plan to increase what is open, allowed, and how many people may gather.
The first step will focus on outdoor activities with smaller crowds. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed. Outdoor dining of up to four people per table will resume on restaurant patios. Non-essential retail can also reopen at 15 per cent capacity. This step will begin once 60 per cent of adults are vaccinated with a single dose of a vaccine.
Moving into the second step will include gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services, indoor religious services at 15 per cent capacity. This step will not happen until at least 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 20 per cent have received two doses.
The third and last step will increase access to indoor settings for sports and recreation, indoor dining, reopening museums, art galleries, and libraries, along with casinos and bingo halls. Capacity limits will remain in all instances. Seventy to 80 per cent of vaccinated with one dose, and 25 per cent must have two doses of vaccine.
Each step will remain in place for at least 21 days before advancing to the next step.
The province-wide “emergency brake” restrictions will stay in effect once Ontario’s “Stay-at-Home” order expires June 2nd.
Elliott said that the week of June 14th is the target for the first step of reopening to begin.