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Ontario reports 243 new COVID-19 cases as premier set to detail next stage of reopening

Ontario reported 243 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with Premier Doug Ford about to reveal details about the province’s next stage of reopening.

The 0.8 per cent jump brings the total number of cases in Ontario since the outbreak began in January to 30,860. Some 79.4 per cent of all cases are now resolved.

The new cases come after just 192 were confirmed on Sunday, though the Ministry of Health added 223 that were impacted by a delay in reporting to the day’s count. Eighteen of the province’s 34 public health units reported no new cases today, while 10 more reported fewer than five.

Meanwhile, the province’s network of labs processed 15,357 tests, below the benchmark of 16,000. Test numbers have typically dropped on Sundays throughout the pandemic period. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 4,811.

Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll increased by 24 and currently sits at 2,450. A CBC News count based on data from regional public health units puts the real toll at 2,490 as of last evening.

Details on Stage 2 of reopening

Ford is expected to lay out the next stage of reopening plans at a news conference scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET. He will be joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips, Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

Ontario entered its first stage of reopening on May 19. Ford cautioned last week that the next step will not begin right away and no date has been set, but he wants to give businesses time to get ready for when it takes effect.

“I know the people of Ontario, you’ve been very, very patient,” Ford said during his daily briefing last Friday.

“We will be ready very soon to take our next steps to reopen our economy, but it won’t happen overnight. Businesses will need some time to prepare.”

Stage 2 would allow a wider number of office-based businesses to reopen and expand the maximum size of social gatherings that’s currently limited to five.

He also revealed last week that a regional approach to reopening is now on the table. About two-thirds of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area.

Further, as of late last week, four public health units in the province were reporting no active cases, while another 10 had five or fewer.

Public health officials have said that Ontario would need to see a consistent decline in new daily cases over a two- to four-week period before advancing into progressive stages of its reopening plan, which has not been the case in the weeks since May 14.

New rules for restaurant and bar patios

Meanwhile, Ontario is getting ready for patio season by removing some regulations and restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Measures announced today will let licensed establishments set up a new patio or expand an existing patio without the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario requiring an application or fee.

It won’t take effect, however, until bars and restaurants are allowed to fully reopen for business.

Attorney General Doug Downey says it will give the hospitality sector more tools to be able to recover, and will help ensure physical distancing.

The measures for patios will still be subject to municipal approval and will be in place until Jan. 1. The new or expanded patio will have to be adjacent to the bar or restaurant and the capacity doesn’t exceed 1.11 square metres per person.

Downey said that a current regulation that patios have to have a fence or barrier of at least 0.9 metres around it will be removed.

“As long as they have a clear demarcation, it could be any number of things, then that would qualify,” he said. “We didn’t want businesses to incur significant costs for a program that will be in place through (one) patio season.”

CBC

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