Restrictions lift further in Waterloo Region with move into Step 3 Friday

Waterloo Region moved into Step 3 of Ontario's reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. Friday, meaning looser restrictions in the area.

The area only moved into Step 2 on Monday following delays due to spread of the Delta variant.

Indoor dining closed in Waterloo Region in April and many local restaurants are eager to welcome guests back inside. For weeks, Kentucky Bourbon has only been allowed to serve customers on patios or through take out. Sunny and dry weather isn't a guarantee, and owner Adam Cole is looking forward to having indoor dining available again.

He added that local establishments have been working closely with bylaw to make sure they're ready for the rules coming with the next step.

"Contact tracing, the mask, the sanitizing, the checks at the door, every staff member has to do the COVID test before they come into the restaurant," Cole said. "There is a lot to know, but bylaw has been a great resource and they have been helping us out a lot."

While many are eager to reopen, others say they aren't ready yet and are concerned about the Delta variant.

Wordsworth Books isn't allowing in-person shopping just yet.

"Personally, I'm surprised at how fast it happened," Mandy Brouse with the bookstore said. "The safety of our staff is of utmost importance."

The store will continue with online shopping for now, allowing people back in-person in a few weeks.

"Most of our staff will be double vaccinated at the end of July, so some of that factored into our decision-making," Brouse said.

Gyms are also allowed to offer indoor fitness as the area moves into Step 3.

Kristian Manning, owner of Gym 41, said they'll welcome back clients at 6 a.m. Friday. The gym was only open for about six weeks in all of 2021 so far.

Staff were busy Thursday making sure the space was safe for members to return.

Manning said members stepped up to help the gym make it through financial difficulties this year.

"They basically bought a month in advance prepaid, that they can use as a gift or they can use toward their membership," he said.

Anyone coming to the gym will need to fill out a questionnaire before entering, wear a mask when they're not using equipment and wipe all machines after use.

"Everything is booked," Manning said. "We're still doing bookings, booked in advance 24 hours. We have hour-and-a-half slots." Anyone not comfortable coming back yet can keep their membership on hold. Manning said around 95 per cent of clients have told him they're eager to return to Gym 41.

Here's what can reopen under Step 3:

  • Social gatherings and public events are capped at 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • Indoor religious services or ceremonies are limited to the number of people able to maintain two metres of physical distancing.
  • Retail and indoor and outdoor dining will be limited to the number of people able to maintain two metres of physical distancing
  • Dance floors can operate as long as people can maintain two metres of physical distancing, with a maximum capacity of 50 per cent indoors and outdoors
  • Personal care services can operate at reduced capacity, as long as clients and staff can maintain two metres of physical distancing. They will also be able to offer services requiring the removal of a mask
  • Sports and recreation facilities can reopen with capacity limited to 50 per cent indoors. Spectators are limited to 50 per cent of indoor seating capacity, up to 1,000 people and 50 per cent of outdoor seating capacity, up to 10,000 people
  • Sports can operate with restrictions on contact
  • Cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, water parks, and gardens will be permitted to operate with capacity limited to 50 per cent indoors and 50 per cent outdoors, with additional restrictions
  • Casinos can reopen at 50 per cent capacity
  • Strip clubs can operate with a limited capacity allowing for two metres of physical distancing

With files from CTV Toronto