Ontario announces stage 3, increases public gathering limits

14 July 2020

Ontario has announced that 24 public health unit regions will be moving into Stage 3 of its Framework for Reopening ("Framework"). As part of Stage 3, the province will also be increasing permitted public gathering limits, subject to social and physical distancing protocols.



a) Stage 3 – Regional Approach

Effective Friday, July 17, 2020, and subject to "strict health and safety requirements", the following public health unit regions will move into Stage 3:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

There are some exceptions and limitations - the province has indicated that the following, "high-risk places and activities" are not yet safe to reopen, even if a region has entered Stage 3:

  • 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.

Businesses affected by these limitations may consider filing a "reopening proposal" via the province's new reopening web portal. An approved reopening proposal will permit affected businesses to safely resume operations under Stage 3. The province has committed to working with affected businesses, and will assess reopening proposals on a case-by-case basis.

Decisions on which regions will enter Stage 3 next, and when, will be made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, based on trends of key public health indicators.

b) Increased gathering limits

Effective July 17, 2020, public gathering limits for regions entering Stage 3 will be increased as follows:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;

"Public gatherings" include indoor or outdoor community events, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, or open houses. Public gatherings will, at all times, be subject to physical distancing requirements.

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

Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of public health unit region or Stage.

For any questions you may have about Stage 3, permitted reopenings, reopening proposals, or any other matters related to COVID-19, the Gowling WLG Employment, Labour & Equalities Group would be pleased to assist. To find out more about our Group and how to contact a specific lawyer, click here.


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