On the weekend, residents of the Waterloo Region were able to enjoy recreational and outdoor activities as they opened back up across the province.
On Thursday, May 20, 2021, the government of Ontario announced a three-step reopening plan for the province, starting with the opening of outdoor recreational amenities.
The province began easing pandemic restriction and opened amenities, such as sports fields and golf courses, to the public. They also expanded their outdoor limits for social gatherings on Saturday. Now, up to five people are able to use these amenities and organize public events although no organized outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted yet.
While the provincial stay-at-home order is set to close on June 2, all businesses deemed ‘non-essential’ will stay closed until Ontario enters step one of the reopening plan. The plan requires that the province remain in each step for at least 21 days to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases.
In order to get to step one, 60 per cent of all Ontario adults must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of this week, approximately 58 per cent of adults have been vaccinated, according to Ontario health minister, Christine Elliot, who hopes to reach step one before June 14.
The second step would have 70 per cent of Ontario adults vaccinated with one and 20 per cent with two doses. Then, indoor gatherings for up to five people and outdoor gatherings for up to 25 people will be allowed.
In the final step, the majority of adults would have their first dose and at least 25 per cent would be fully vaccinated. The province will lift most of their restrictions for indoor gatherings and non-essential businesses, including for indoor seating, museums and libraries.
On May 18, 2021, a Kitchener city councillor was corrected after using a negative term to describe residents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. According to CTV, Ward 3 councillor John Gazzola called those receiving their second dose “Canadian guinea pigs” during a virtual meeting.
Berry Vrbanovic, mayor of Kitchener, said it is important that elected officials share accurate information with community members.
As of May 26, 2021, Waterloo health officials have confirmed 15,709 total cases of COVID-19, including 256 deaths. Approximately 430 cases are considered active in the Region.