More COVID-19 restrictions loosen as Ontario enters Step 2

A woman wears a facemask while getting a haircut. (© Can Stock Photo / geargodz)

For the first time in months, Ontarians can get a haircut or have a small indoor gathering.

As of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the province entered Step 2 of its three step economic reopening plan.

The most notable of the COVID-19 restrictions to be loosened is that personal care services can now reopen, allowing for haircuts and manicures.

Caps on social gatherings have also increased with 25 people allowed outdoors and five people indoors.

Essential retailers can up their capacity to 50 per cent, while non-essential businesses can have 25 per cent capacity. Shopping malls are also now permitted to open.

It was last Wednesday, when Premier Doug Ford announced the province would move to Step 2 on June 30, two days earlier than the originally planned July 2. The only exception is Waterloo Region. It will remain in Step 1 until mid-July due to a surge in new Delta variant cases.

Under the criteria laid out by the Ford government, in order to enter Step 2 Ontario needed 70 per cent of all eligible adults to have had their first COVID-19 vaccine dose and 20 per cent of all eligible adults to have the required two doses. To date, 77.5 per cent of adults in the province have got their first shot, while 37.3 per cent have received both doses to be considered fully inoculated.

If all goes well and there isn’t a jump in new COVID-19 cases, Ontario could enter Step 3 of the reopening plan within 21 days.

Below is a list of what has changed under Step 2:

-Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people
-Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people
-Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity
-Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
-Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions
-Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions
-Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
-Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance
-Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions
-Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
-Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
-Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
-Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
-Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions