On Wednesday, July 29, the province announced that the Region of Peel and Toronto would be moving into Stage 3 on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m.

Other parts of the province have already entered Stage 3, some on July 17 and some on July 24.

The Province of Ontario says the decision, which was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health, is based on lower transmission of COVID-19, an increase in testing, available hospital capacity, and public health organizations’ capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management.

Premier Doug Ford said, “While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we’re asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly.”

He also noted, “We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols.”

For regions in Stage 3, size limits for gatherings go up to a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors, with physical distancing in place. These limits apply to all social gatherings and events of any kind. Although they do not apply to settings such as beaches, parks, restaurants and bars, there will be other measures in place in those areas which will allow for physical distancing and this means there will continue to be capacity limits.

Further, areas in Stage 3 allow indoor dining and drinking with physical distancing measures in place. Gyms, casinos and movie theatres can also reopen.

The province also supports proposals made by Toronto Public Health for restaurants, bars. Recently Toronto Mayor John Tory, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and other area mayors have called for both continued and in some cases increased preventative measures. Some of the proposals are strict masking rules, requiring people to remain seated in bars, capacity limits inside facilities as well as log-keeping for contact tracing.

Officials stress that residents should continue to practice physical distancing with those outside their household or social circle, wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, stay home when ill, and wash hands frequently and thoroughly.

As things progress, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and all the other public health experts will keep monitoring the situation as it evolves. They will advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or tightened once more based on the health outcomes that result from the move to Stage 3.