Beginning Friday, more restrictions put in place in Ontario because of COVID-19 will begin to be relaxed. The province's premier has also announced a cautious restart of family visits to long-term care and retirement homes.
The Greater Toronto Area and several other regions will be held back from reopening until June 19, at the earliest. Officials say the Toronto area accounts for more than two-thirds of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
But elsewhere, bars and restaurants with outdoor seating can open. Some personal care services, such as hair and beauty salons, some shopping malls, excluding their restaurants, tour and guide services, and beach access and provincial parks have been given the green light.
Premier Doug Ford also announced that family visits to long-term care homes can restart in a week.
“I know the tremendous toll this has taken on people not being able to see your loved ones and, for many families, not being able to be the side of their loved ones in the final or most difficult moments is heartbreaking. It’s hard to imagine anything worse," Ford said. "It was a tremendous sacrifice and we must never forget what these families had to go through.”
The visits to the homes will be under strict guidelines. To visit, a person must have tested negative for COVID-19 within two weeks of the visit, they must wash their hands upon arrival and when leaving the home, plus they must wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.
The homes have been hotspots for the coronavirus. At present, there are 77 outbreaks in long-term care homes and 29 in retirement homes.