Ontario to move into Step One of reopening plan on Friday

Ontario will be moving into Step One of its reopening plan on Friday, a few days ahead of schedule.

The province says the decision is based on vaccination rates and improvements in public health and health system indicators.

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

“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.”

Step One of reopening includes expanding outdoor gatherings and organized public events to ten people.

Outdoor dining can resume, along with outdoor fitness classes and outdoor sports.

Non-essential retail will be permitted at 15 per cent capacity.

When announcing the reopening plan, the government said it wanted to have vaccinated 60 per cent of adults with at least one dose for two weeks or longer. As of Sunday night, 72 per cent of Ontario adults have received a vaccine.

The change comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.

There were 525 COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, the lowest daily case count since the end of September.

The number of patients in ICU dipped below 500 for the first time in months.

READ MORE: Ontario reports 525 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths, over 10M vaccine doses administered