BARRIE, ONT. -- Simcoe Muskoka business owners waiting to reopen and remove restrictions on what items they can sell will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as the province moves into Step 1 of its economic reopening plan earlier than initially scheduled.

The province announced that Ontario would shift into the first stage of reopening on Friday rather than Monday.

"The only reason we're able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement Monday.

Moving to Step 1 means limited patio dining, indoor shopping and outdoor gatherings up to 10 people.

Stores can open all aisles with no restrictions on what can be sold, and non-essential retail can welcome back customers with a 15 per cent capacity limit.

Here is what else is permitted in Step 1:

  • outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
  • indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households
  • outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions
  • day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19
  • overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals
  • concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
  • outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators
  • outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions

"As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines," Ford added.

It's anticipated the province will move to Step 2 roughly three weeks later; however, there are no exact dates.

Complete details on what Ontario's three-tiered reopening plan means for Simcoe Muskoka are available here.