What Simcoe Muskoka needs to know about Ontario's 3-step reopening plan
BARRIE, ONT. -- Life in Simcoe Muskoka will slowly get back to some form of normalcy with the introduction of Ontario's three-step roadmap to reopening the economy.
The province is basing each of the three steps on vaccination rates, with at least 21 days between each stage.
The stay-at-home order expires on June 2, but all non-essential retailers will not be able to open until the province enters step one.
However, the government is allowing the gradual reopening of some outdoor amenities to start Saturday.
Golf courses, driving ranges, soccer, tennis courts, basketball courts and skate parks are listed among the outdoor recreational amenities welcoming back residents in time for the long weekend.
In Barrie, the city's marina, gas dock and boat launches will open Saturday, including the Bayfield Street Bayfield Basin Transient Marina.
Additionally, outdoor social gatherings and organized public events are permitted with a five-person limit, including people from different households.
Step One of the provincial reopening roadmap will kick into gear when at least 60 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Ford government anticipates that happening the week of June 14, but Health Minister Christine Elliott called the timeline an "approximate date right now."
At that time, outdoor gatherings will expand to up to 10 people. Indoor dining will open with up to four at a table, outdoor fitness classes can resume, and pools and splash pads can operate.
Essential retailers can remove the caution tape and allow shopping in all aisles once again but are limited to a 25 per cent capacity, while non-essential retailers can reopen with a 15 per cent cap.
Also, in time for the summer season, restrictions are lifted on Ontario parks, campsites, campgrounds and short-term rentals.
Step Two will come into effect after at least 70 per cent of adults have their first dose of the vaccine.
Outdoor gatherings expand to up to 25 people, and up to five people are permitted at indoor gatherings.
Outdoor sports leagues are allowed, along with outside meetings and outdoor tours. Essential retail can expand to 50 per cent and non-essential can jump the capacity limit to 25 per cent.
Personal care services can reopen. Indoor religious services will have a 15 per cent cap.
Outdoor waterparks, amusement parks, fairs and exhibitions will be able to welcome customers, but with capacity limitations.
The roadmap was introduced too late for Simcoe County's largest fundraising event, Kempenfest, to go ahead this summer. The event was cancelled back in March after organizers said they wouldn't have enough time to prepare. It's the second year the festival had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.
The final step will come into play when between 70 and 80 per cent of adults have received at least their first COVID-19 shot, likely in August.
The third step of the province's roadmap returns life back to normal - for the most part - as restrictions finally unwind.
The final stage allows large outdoor and indoor gatherings, indoor dining, events, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, and sports and recreational facilities - though the government did not specify if there would be capacity limits.
The government did not provide a date for students to return to in-person learning with the roadmap.
Premier Doug Ford called the latest COVID-19 modelling "concerning" as data revealed a return to class could result in up to an 11 per cent spike in daily infections.
With files from The Canadian Press