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Ontario to allow larger groups at wedding, funeral ceremonies as province reports 266 new cases

Ontario is allowing larger groups at wedding and funeral ceremonies, as the province says they recognize "the importance of being with loved ones during the moments that matter most."

Indoor venues can operate at 30% capacity, outdoor ceremonies limited to 50 attendees

The new measures only apply to ceremonies. Receptions will still be limited to 10 people. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Ontario is allowing larger groups at wedding and funeral ceremonies, as the province says they recognize "the importance of being with loved ones during the moments that matter most."

In a news release on Saturday, the province announced that indoor wedding and funeral venues are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 per cent capacity. Outdoor ceremonies will be limited to 50 attendees. 

The new measures, which went into effect on Friday, only apply to ceremonies. Receptions will still be limited to the 10-person restriction put in place this week, when the province increased the limit on gatherings from five.

"As we loosen these measures, I strongly urge everyone to remain careful and cautious as we are all still at risk," said Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliott, in the release. 

The province said proper health and safety advice needs to be followed in all instances, including physical distancing from those who are not in the same household or in their established 10-person social circle, a new measure put in place on Friday by the provincial government. You can read more about it here.

Ontario reports 266 new cases

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 266 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, an increase from Friday's record low. The number, however, marks the seventh straight day that the province has reported fewer than 300 cases.

The 0.8 per cent increase brings the total number of cases in the province to 31,992, with 83 per cent of those classified as resolved. 

Twenty-eight of Ontario's 34 public health units reported five or fewer new cases on Saturday, and 14 of those reported no new cases at all. Peel, York and Toronto regions account for 67 per cent of today's new cases.

The province's network of labs processed 27,456 tests for the novel coronavirus on Friday.

Elliott said the increase in case numbers can be expected as the province increases the number of tests it is performing.

"What matters most are trends, which continue to show Ontario on a downward trajectory," Elliott said in a tweet on Saturday morning. 

Ontario's official COVID-19 death toll grew by nine to 2,507. It's the fifth straight day that the province has reported fewer than 15 new deaths. Data based on regional public heath complied by CBC News, which avoids lag time in reporting, puts the real current death toll as of Saturday evening at 2,563, 10 more deaths than Friday evening.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently sits at 489, the first time since April 3 that the number has dropped below 500. A total of 110 patients are currently in intensive care units, the fewest since April 29.

Province announces new STEM material for at-home learning 

Meanwhile, the province announced new learning material for students that supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to keep students "engaged and learning during this difficult time," Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a release on Saturday. 

The Ontario government says it is working with Science North and the Ontario Science Centre to provide over a billion dollars worth of resources focused on four science course areas in the curriculum. 

According to the release, Science North will create resources for elementary school teachers and students, while the Ontario Science Centre will develop materials for secondary school teachers and students.

All resources will be accessible and available in English and French and will include:

  • Professional development videos for educators. 
  • Virtual and at-home hands-on STEM activities for students. 
  • Activities and student worksheets that can be printed and distributed through school boards. 

"I'm proud that these new online resources will support students with the high-quality, accessible content they need to continue learning at home during this unprecedented time," Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, said in the release. 

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