The Government of Ontario is opening up outdoor recreation facilities for the weekend starting May 22.
The province announced May 20 that due to COVID-19 trends, it would allow golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks, soccer fields, driving ranges and more to open. Outdoor gatherings are expanded to five people. All other restrictions will remain in effect.
The move comes ahead of a new three-step reopening plan the province announced, which will enable more openings every 21 days depending on trends for COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.
“As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals.”
Health officials have been clamouring for a loosening on restrictions for outdoor recreation, where transmission risks are lower. The Ontario Medical Association called for the move in a press release May 12. Outdoor recreation has been closed since April 17.
The government also unveiled plans to start reopening the province in 21-day intervals. If COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward and 60 per cent of Ontarian adults reach one dose of vaccination, more restrictions will lift June 12. That could include outdoor gatherings allowing 10 people, outdoor dining with four people at a table and non-essential retail opening at 15 per cent capacity.
Further restrictions could lift in each 21-day interval if trends are good enough.
“Brighter days are ahead, and we believe this roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said.
Step two would further expand outdoor activities, with outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people. Personal care services where face coverings can be worn would reopen and indoor religious services could resume at 15 per cent capacity. It would require 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
Step three would expand access to indoor settings, including indoor sports and recreational fitness, dining, museums, art galleries, libraries and casinos with capacity limits. It would require 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.