This Friday, patios and non-essential retail stores in the Waterloo Region will re-open , with some restrictions. Earlier this week, the provincial government announced they will be moving into Step 1 of their reopening plan on June 11, moved earlier from their projected date of June 14. Ontario will remain in the Step 1 phase for at least 21 days.
When Ontario’s three-step reopening plan was announced last month, health officials said that the province could move to the first step once 60 per cent of residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of this week, 72 per cent of Ontario residents over the age of 18 had received their first dose. According to the Region of Waterloo, 68 per cent of those over the age of 18 had received their first vaccine dose in the region.
As of June 11, outdoor social gatherings and public events, including fitness classes, are allowed for up to 10 people. Outdoor dining can fit up to four people per table, and outdoor religious events and ceremonies can be capped at the number of attendees that can still physically distance.
As for retail, essential retail can expand capacity to 25 per cent, while non-essential retail can now open at 15 per cent capacity. There are no restrictions on what can and cannot be sold in essential retail stores.
On June 2, the provincial government announced that all classrooms across Ontario will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
According to the Waterloo Region District School Board, students will continue with remote learning until the end of June. Ontario health officials have also released modelling which showed that the reopening of schools could possibly result in a 6 to 11 per cent spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, the Ontario government also released graduation ceremony guidelines for schools. Any type of graduation ceremonies are required to be held outdoors and at venues with proper social distancing protocols. Gatherings before, during, or after the ceremony are prohibited.
Multiple anti-lockdown rallies have occurred in the Square for the past few months against lockdown measures. Waterloo Regional Police were on scene monitoring one which took place last Sunday where attendees did not follow COVID-19 prevention protocols such as physical distancing or wearing masks. As of June 9, Waterloo health officials have confirmed 16,381 total cases of COVID-19, including approximately 256 deaths. Approximately 345 cases are considered active in the Region.