Moving into Stage 3? Here's what you need to know

Starting today, the majority of Ontario will move into Stage 3 as the province continues with the pandemic recovery plan.

Indoor eating is allowed but you still can’t go to a buffet

Many health units and municipalities across Ontario have implemented policies requiring people to wear masks. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press )

Starting today, the majority of Ontario will move into Stage 3 as the province continues with the pandemic recovery plan.

The Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario will remain in Stage 2.

Stage 3 means a number of businesses will reopen, while following public health advice and workplace safety guidelines.

Here are some of the changes happening in Stage 3.

Group Gatherings:

In Stage 3, indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor limits will go up to 100 people.

That doesn't necessarily mean you can have a party with 49 of your closest friends.

According to the province, regardless of what stage your area is in, you have to maintain your decided social circle of 10 people. That means if you're in a gathering with people outside of your social circle, you must continue to practice physical distancing.

Indoors gatherings for religious services, rites or ceremonies and wedding ceremonies or funerals can continue to fill up to a maximum of 30 per cent of the capacity.

What about masks?

Masks are not specifically mentioned in Stage 3, but you'll likely need one if you want to go to a public place regardless of where you live.

The provincial government has not issued a policy or directive on the use of face coverings across Ontario. However, the majority of local health units and municipalities in the province have put policies in place that mandate the use of masks in public indoor places.

The province says a medical grade mask is not necessary and a non-medical face covering, like a cloth mask is sufficient.

When it comes to face shields, health units across Ontario say they are not a good alternative to masks.

Many areas have also mandated the use of masks when using public transit.

What about masks in food establishments?

You may be wondering how you'll enjoy a beverage or your lunch in a restaurant while being required to wear a mask indoors.

According to Public Health Sudbury & Districts, "the definition of commercial establishment applies only to indoor portions of a restaurant that can be accessed by members of the public." It says customers will have to wear masks when entering the building to "use the facilities [or to] pick up take out food."

Once you're at your table to eat, the health unit says you're not required to wear a face covering.

What's not opening in Stage 3:

If you're hoping to go to an amusement or water park, you're out of luck because the province says those aren't able to open in Stage 3.

Casinos and charitable gaming establishments can open, but must follow gathering limits and physical distancing measures. Table games will remain closed for now.

The province says "nightclubs are not yet safe to open," except to serve food and drinks. Singing and dancing "may be performed by a person or group at the restaurant or bar with restrictions." As for dancing, that can only be done "by someone working at the establishment with restrictions."

Some sports can resume, but team sports where body contact between players is "an integral component" are not permitted, such as wrestling and judo.

Want to eat at a buffet? You'll have to wait as they can't open in Stage 3.

Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars also have to stay closed.

When will the rest of Ontario move into Stage 3?

No date has been released yet as to when the rest of Ontario will move into Stage 3, but the provincial medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said earlier in the week he is hoping that will happen by the end of the month.


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