Things are about to change in Ontario. With Premier Doug Ford announcing that 24 regions of the province are heading into stage three this week, Ontario's social gatherings and bubbles are going to be a little different. The restrictions on socially-distanced hangouts will be greatly loosened in stage-three regions as of July 17, but the same can't be said for social bubbles.
Ford announced on Monday, July 13 that all but 10 regions are ready to reopen at stage three as of Friday.
As with stage two, that does not include Toronto, Peel, York, Durham, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, or Lambton, for the meantime.
Outside of those areas, though, businesses and attractions like gyms, movie theatres, and indoor restaurants and bars can open up from Friday.
Health Minister Christine Elliot had previously mentioned that Ontario social gatherings weren't going to increase until a date was set for stage three.
On Monday, we finally got confirmation.
According to the Ontario website, the province will be increasing the limit for indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people. Meanwhile, outdoor group limits can now welcome up to 100 people as long as physical distancing remains in place.
We are moving forward in reopening Ontario. On July 17th, 24 regions will move to Stage 3. In Stage 3 more busine… https://t.co/26p3wO2oCW— Doug Ford (@Doug Ford)1594662089.0
That's a big step up, as the current cap of 10 people has been in place for over a month now. So, for outdoor groupings in stage three, 10 times as many people are suddenly allowed to turn up.
"Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses," reads part of the statement on the Ontario website.
However, while you're allowed to be near a whole bunch more people, the idea of small social "bubbles" hasn't changed.
Back in June, Ford had announced that Ontario's social circles can include 10 of your closest friends and family members, allowing you to reconnect and make physical contact without having to social distance like before.
Those tighter-knit groups must remain at a limit of 10, says Ontario's statement.
That's the case regardless of which stage the respective region happens to be in.
The province states you're supposed to include in your circle only people you trust and who are sticking strictly to their own social bubbles.
But, with a lot of people outside the GTA free to socialize in larger groups from this Friday, keeping up that kind of vigilance may prove more difficult.