Outdoor dining, non-essential retail can reopen Friday in Waterloo Region; Ont. moves into Step 1 ahead of schedule

Waterloo Region patios and non-essential retail stores can open with some restrictions starting Friday.

The province will move into Step 1 of its reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on June 11, three days ahead of the projected date of June 14 released last month.

“It is important to continue to practice public health measures, especially avoiding close contact with people you don’t live with, as we look towards Step One of reopening Ontario,” said Waterloo Region's Associate Medical of Health Dr. Julie Emili in a news release.“A cautious and gradual approach to reopening, combined with public health measures and getting vaccinated when it’s your turn, will help keep our community moving in the right direction and help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The province's stay-at-home order was lifted last week, but most stores and in-person dining remained closed.

Last month, officials said the province could move into Step 1 after 60 per cent of Ontario residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Ontario, 72 per cent of the 18+ population has received a shot. In Waterloo Region, 68 per cent of the 18+ population have received at least one dose.

Here's what's allowed in Ontario as of Friday:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and public events up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table
  • Outdoor fitness classes of up to 10 people
  • Non-essential retail can open at 15 per cent capacity
  • Essential retail can expand capacity to 25 per cent, with no restrictions on what can be sold
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Day camps
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas can open outdoors for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
  • Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways without spectators
  • Outdoor attractions like zoos, landmarks, historic sties and botanical gardens, with capacity restrictions

Ontario will remain in Step 1 for at least 21 days.

Local businesses in Waterloo Region say they're relieved to reopen and are working hard to prepare for Friday.

"If we relied strictly on our retail floor, it would be a retail challenge, we'd be lucky to survive," said Richie Antolicic, general manager at The Sports Link in Kitchener. "It's been a long run and we can't wait to reopen."

"I'm very excited," said Zeljko Loncar, owner of restaurant 271 West in Kitchener. "Today I received several phone calls making reservations for Friday and Saturday."

However, Restaurants Canada said they're still asking the government for more support for the industry as restaurants look to fully recover.

"We figure after opening, after full opening, it will be another 12 to 18 months before restaurants are profitable again," said James Rilett with Restaurants Canada.

OUTLINES FOR GRADUATION CEREMONIES

The province also released guidelines for graduation ceremonies on Monday.

Any ceremonies need to be organized by class for elementary schools or quadmestered class for secondary schools and students can bring up to two guests.

Celebrations need to be outside and they have to be held at a venue where guests can maintain proper physical distancing.

Gathering before and after ceremonies isn't allowed.

There are screening requirements in place both ahead of the event and at the site. Schools must keep a record of everyone who attends.

Anyone at the ceremony will need to wear a non-medical mask.

The Waterloo Region District School Board said it's looking at the information from the province to "determine how these suggested options, while also considering what is possible for schools, will impact our end of year celebrations."

More information will be shared with students and families when it's available, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CTV Kitchener.

A spokesperson for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board said they've seen the guidelines and are working to see how it lines up with planning already done for virtual ceremonies.

The school board hopes to have an update later this week.

With files from CTV Kitchener's Jeff Pickel and Krista Simpson.