Dine-in restaurants, bars, performing arts venues, movie theatres, gyms and more can reopen in most of Ontario on Friday

Government announces stage three reopening will also increase limit on social gatherings up to 100 people outdoors and up 50 people indoors

Two masked employees in a restaurant. (Stock photo)

Dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms and fitness centres, most personal care services, live shows, performing arts and movie theatres, casinos, recreational facilities and activities, team sports and live sporting events, and tour and guide services will be able to open in most of Ontario effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17th.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement of the Stage 3reopening in the province on Monday afternoon (July 13) at a news conference at Queen’s Park along with health minister Christine Elliott, finance minister Rod Phillips, and education minister Stephen Lecce.

“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” Premier Ford said. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”

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Only Toronto, York Region, Peel Region, Durham Region, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, and Lambton will remain at Stage 2 at the current time.

In addition, the restriction on social gatherings will be increased to allow up to 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors, as long as physical distancing is maintained. People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals, or open houses. A two-metre distance must still be maintained at such events.

Concerts, artistic events, theatrical productions, performances, and movie theatres may resume operations, including rehearsals, with the following restrictions:

  • Performers must maintain physical distancing of two metres from every other person, except from other performers where necessary for purposes of the performance.
  • Audiences are subject to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres and cannot exceed gathering limits of 50 indoors and 100 outdoors. This applies to the entire facility, regardless of the number of theatres or performance stages within the facility.
  • Performers and staff are not included in the gathering limits
  • Plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier is required between the audience and singers as well as players of brass or wind instruments.
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues, as permitted in Stage 2, are not subject to gathering limits.
  • Concessions stands at drive-through venues may be accessed in-person or bydrive-through or delivery to vehicles.
Movie theatres are among a number of businesses in most of Ontario that can reopen to the public effective July 17, 2020.
Movie theatres are among a number of businesses in most of Ontario that can reopen to the public effective July 17, 2020.

Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10.

Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage. The government says it will evaluate the limitation on social circles throughout Stage 3.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, public health experts, and other officials have advised the following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Amusement parks and water parks
  • Buffet-style food services
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Private karaoke rooms
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
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For regions that remain in Stage 2, at the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.

Beginning on Monday, July 27th, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.

PDF: What’s reopening in Stage 3 and where
What's reopening in Stage 3 and where


This story has been updated with additional details from the Government of Ontario.