Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo region, Guelph get green light for phase 2 of reopening

The province has announced 24 areas of the province will be allowed to enter phase two of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic. Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County are among those areas that have been given the go-ahead. Phase two begins Friday.

'I don’t have concerns at this point with where the province is going,' region's top doctor says

Hairdressers and barbers are among the businesses that will be allowed to open in parts of the province starting on Friday. Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County have been given the go-ahead to enter phase two of reopening as part of the response plan to COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Splash pads, campsites, hairdressers and restaurant patios can all reopen in Waterloo region as of Friday, the province says.

Waterloo region is listed among the 24 areas of the province that have been given the green light to move on the phase two of reopening.

The exact plan for reopening locally, though, is still being worked on and details were not immediately available Monday as staff met to discuss the province's announcement. Regional officials are expected to address the phase two reopening during a regularly scheduled media briefing on Tuesday.

Last week, the region's acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said she was encouraged to see the number of COVID-19 cases were stabilizing in the region. She hoped that trend would continue.

"I don't have concerns at this point with where the province is going," Wang said, although added she would "reserve the right to potentially change my mind."

Larger groups, camping allowed

The phase two reopening can begin as of 12:01 a.m. Friday. It will also allow groups of up to 10 people to get together, up from the current five.

As well, tour and guide services such as bike and walking tours can resume, swimming pools can open, beaches and additional camping at Ontario parks, camping at private campgrounds, outdoor recreational facilities for team sports and places of worship can open with some restrictions.

The Grand River Conservation Authority said it didn't have any information to share on Monday about camping facilities, but it is reviewing the announcement.

Over the weekend, the GRCA issued a media release asking people to respect the conservation areas and trails after "a considerable amount of garbage and other waste" was left in the parks and "staff reported people not respecting area closures, people on beaches and people not practicing appropriate physical distancing measures."

"Should the GRCA continue to experience significant challenges in its conservation areas with visitors not respecting the rules in place, access will be restricted or the areas may be forced to close altogether," the authority said.

Must follow guidance

Guelph and Wellington County will also be part of the phase two reopening by the province.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, the medical officer of health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, called it a "positive step" for the area.

"Cautiously reopening more amenities and businesses means positive economic and physical health benefits for our citizens; both factors in good health," Mercer said in a release.

But she also said people must remain diligent in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"We all must continue to wash our hands, wear a mask and practice physical distancing of two metres. Following these steps will help keep you and your family safe, but also protect your friends and neighbours. The willingness of each of us to do our part will be a key factor in whether we take a step forward or backward in this pandemic," Mercer said.

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