Hamilton will enter Stage 3 of COVID-19 reopening on Friday
Stage 3 includes indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows, movie theatres and playgrounds
Hamilton will enter Stage 3 on Friday as the province continues to ease restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Only Peel, Toronto and Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 this week, but every other part of Ontario will be in Stage 3. That includes Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk.
Paul Johnson, director of the emergency operations centre, confirmed that Hamilton will enter Stage 3 on Friday. That means the reopening of restaurants for indoor seating, movie theatres, playground equipment and gyms, but with measures of physical distancing.
It also allows indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, and outdoor gatherings of up to 100, as long as people stay two metres away from each other, Johnson said. The so-called social "bubbles" of who people can touch, hug and be closer remains at 10 people, and bubbles can't overlap.
Masks also have to be worn in indoor businesses and public facilities. This is according to a new city bylaw that starts today.
"We're into Stage 3, and I think that's perfectly reasonable given the case count we've had for the last number of weeks," Johnson said.
Twenty-four of the 34 health regions in Ontario already moved to the third stage on July 17. Health Minister Christine Elliott says people still have to be careful to continue their pandemic-era measures, including hand washing and keeping a physical distance.
"Entering Stage 3 does not mean the fight against COVID-19 is over," she said in a statement. "We all must remain vigilant and continue following public health advice to ensure the progress we have made so far in stopping the spread will not be undone."
Johnson echoed that sentiment. This isn't the time to be lax about preventing the spread of the virus, he said.
"Indoors is where there's a real risk of virus transmission," he added.
"The really critical one is physical distancing. That is one of the strongest ways we have to protect ourselves."
The social bubble principle remains the same, he said, so if someone has a group of people over, everyone not in the same bubble has to keep a two-metre distance. "There is nothing suggesting that we can relax that."
Stage 3 still excludes gatherings of more than 100 people outdoors, as well as reopening night clubs and buffets, Johnson said. So "getting together to watch the Ticats play is not in the cards yet."
As of Monday, 24 people are known to have COVID-19 in Hamilton, up one from Friday.
Since March, the city has seen 884 cases (875 confirmed, nine probable), which is up from 873 cases on Friday. Forty-four people have died and 10 more have recovered since Friday, for a total of 816.
Here are the numbers for other areas:
There are nine people in Brant/Brantford known to have COVID-19, which is down three from last week. None are in hospital.
All told, there have been 136 confirmed cases, the same as Friday. Of those, 123 have recovered and four have died.
There are 35 people known to have COVID-19 in Halton now, down from 41 last week. Halton has 894 known cases (810 confirmed, 84 probable), which is up nine from last week.
Of those, 834 people have recovered and 25 people have died.
In Burlington, 10 people are known to have the virus right now, which is the same as late last week. The city has seen 184 cases, up from four late last week, of which 167 have recovered and seven have died.
The two counties have a combined 18 known COVID-19 cases right now.
The total number of confirmed cases is 446, up one from late last week. Of those, 396 people have recovered and 32 have died.
Niagara has seen 800 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, which is up 15 from Thursday.
Of the total cases, 702 people have recovered and 64 people have died, which means 34 people are known to have the virus in Niagara right now. That's up from 24 late last week.
Twelve per cent of Niagara residents with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 3.4 per cent were in intensive care.