Ontario Premier Doug Ford has unveiled the plan for loosening the province’s tough coronavirus pandemic rules. The easing of restrictions will take place in three steps.
The economic reopening of Ontario is still about three weeks away, but the recreational reopening begins this weekend.
As of May 22, outdoor amenities in Ontario such as golf courses, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and soccer pitches will be allowed. In addition, outdoor social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to include use by up to five people.
Ford said the plan will move forward slow and steady.
“This is being done slowly and with extreme caution," he said, " and it will be done through a gradual three-step road map to safely reopen Ontario.”
Officials said the key to the reopening is the expanded vaccine rollout. Step one of the plan will likely begin in mid-June and for that to happen, 60% of adults in Ontario must have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
After that, each of the three steps will last about three weeks, with health officials monitoring case numbers. The final step could come by the end of July and see life return mostly to normal.
Ontario’s stay-at-home order ends June 2, but all non-essential businesses will remain closed until step one. Schools might reopen to in-person learning in June, but no date has been set. That, too, could depend on vaccination rates of special education staff and teachers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said the border with the U.S. would remain closed for at least another month. On Tuesday, he acknowledged that discussions for reopening the Canada-U.S. border are continuing, but suggested three-quarters of Canadians will need to be vaccinated before that could happen.
Almost 50% of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Trudeau said by the summer, Canada will have enough vaccines so that every eligible resident will have gotten their first dose, and by September, it will have enough doses for everyone to be fully vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.