Northwestern Ontario will transition into Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening Framework on Friday.

Earlier today, Premier Ford announced that 24 regions in Ontario will move into Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening framework on Friday, July 17, at 12:01 a.m., including northwestern Ontario. He added that these regions will be closely-monitored throughout the transition.

“My friends, this is great news. We’re moving forward as a province, but we can’t stop and won’t stop until we get every worker in Ontario back to work and back on their feet,” said Ford, during his live announcement in Toronto.

“Today’s news is an important step forward. It’s an important step in getting life back to normal, and this will mean expanding the limits on public gatherings and regions as they enter Stage 3.”

Stage 3 of Ontario’s framework includes new limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Up to 100 residents will be able gather outside, and up to 50 residents will be able to gather indoors, but all are still expected to strictly follow all social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

As well, Ford says that ‘nearly all’ of Ontario’s businesses and public spaces will be allowed to reopen. This includes dine-in restaurants, gyms, personal care services, live shows, performing arts centres, movie theatres, casinos, recreation centres, recreation facilities, live sports, team sports, and tour and guide services. Ford says that businesses should only open if they feel safe to do so.

Ford was joined in the announcement by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.

Elliott noted that Stage 3 will remain in place for the foreseeable future and no 'Stage 4' is planned at this time, but social limits can still be adjusted. She added that a vaccine would 'help', but there's no firm timeline on a vaccine yet.

“This is great news for Northwestern Ontario. As we move into Phase 3 it will be more important than ever to get out and support our local businesses, restaurants and attractions,” said MPP Greg Rickford. “Thank you to everyone across Kenora-Rainy River who continues to follow the strict health and safety guidelines, the actions of many has moved us into Phase 3 and showcased the true resiliency of Northwesterners.”

In February, the World Health Organization said the first COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t be available for 18 months, or roughly by August of 2021. The European Medicines Agency said a vaccine could be approved in roughly one year.

On May 15, the W.H.O. said there were 110 possible vaccines that would be tested in preclinical (non-human) evaluations around the world. One of those vaccines is being tested in Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Canada is able to order special authorizations for vaccines that aren’t yet approved in Canada.

Ontario first declared a State of Emergency March 17. It’s currently set to expire on July 22.

For more information:
What do we know about asymptomatic COVID-19 cases?
New legislation introduced to extend emergency orders into next year