Hamilton moves to Stage Three today and here’s what you need to know

It’s a big day for Hamilton, and the rest of Ontario, as the province makes the move into Stage Three of its gradual COVID-19 reopening plan five days ahead of what was previously scheduled.

This stage – which comes as a result of continued positive trends in vaccination rates and daily COVID-19 case numbers – sees even further restrictions lifted all over Ontario, with certain parts of the economy able to carefully reopen as of today.

Public health measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing are still required across the board, save for select situations – like dining – where a mask needs to be removed for a period of time.

But what does that mean for Hamilton? One of the biggest changes in Stage Three is the return of indoor dining, with restaurants, bars, and cafes now permitted to reopening their dining spaces for guests starting today, with no limits of the number of people per table.

However, not all local restaurants may be ready to reopen their indoor dining just yet, so it’s best to call your favourite spot or check them out on social media to see what the status is.

Fitness studios and gyms can also reopen their indoor facilities today, again with capacity limits and with mask-wearing.

Additionally, indoor event spaces like cinemas, performing arts venues, and sports stadiums are permitted to reopen with capacity limits, distancing, and mask-wearing; some which are opening for the very first time since the pandemic began back in March 2020.

Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events are capped at 100 people, and indoor gatherings of the same sort are capped at 25 people.

All essential and non-essential retail is permitted to open with capacity limits to ensure physical distancing can be maintained at all times, and personal care services can now host larger numbers of guests as long as distancing can be maintained.

Religious ceremonies and services can also return indoors, with strict capacity limits in place to enforce distancing and masks worn at all times.

Controversially, the Ford government recently announced that they are not considering the implementation of a Proof of Vaccination Card for Ontarians to participate in non-essential activities like large indoor public events, restaurants, or fitness centres.

However, some private businesses may themselves choose to limit in-person visitors to those who have been vaccinated. Seneca College in Toronto made the news this week by announcing such plans, with all students and staff on campus and in residence required to be vaccinated to attend in-person.

Read more about Stage Three in Ontario here.

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