East Toronto prepares for Stage 3 of COVID-19 reopening as long weekend approaches

Woodbine Beach is expected to be a popular spot for many people to celebrate the August long weekend (as it was in this photo from the weekend prior to Canada Day) but visitors need to continue to follow health guidelines and maintain social distancing. Photo by Susan Legge. Inset photo: restaurants including these along Queen Street East in the Beach are looking forward to Toronto entering Stage 3 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday, July 31.

By ALI RAZA

The City of Toronto enters Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, after fewer cases of COVID-19 were reported five weeks after the city moved into Stage 2.

That means on Friday, July 31 – just in time for the Simcoe Day holiday long weekend – nearly all businesses, services, and city facilities can gradually reopen with public health measures in place.

While residents and businesses are both eager to return to normalcy, Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said, its important to maintain physical distancing, wear a mask indoors, and reduce crowding – especially at the local beaches for the long weekend.

“We’re all eager to get back to some of our regular routines,” he said.

“I’m encouraging everyone to remember that even though we’ve made incredible progress, it could roll back all too quickly if we don’t continue following public health guidelines.”

The province announced July 29 that Toronto and Peel Region were entering Stage 3, while Windsor-Essex remains the only region in Ontario still in Stage 2 of the reopening plan.

As part of the reopening, residents are allowed to participate in social gatherings and organized public events with limits of 50 people for indoor gatherings, and 100 for outdoor gatherings.

Public gatherings are still subject to physical distancing requirements, and residents are still recommended to maintain a 10-person social circle. The city’s bylaws on physical distancing in public parks and squares remains in effect.

City facilities will also reopen, including playgrounds, community centres, and libraries.

Businesses and services able to reopen include restaurants and bars, sport facilities, some fitness gyms and recreational programs.

Businesses and services deemed high-risk, and therefore unable to open include nightclubs, amusement parks, buffet-style food services, saunas and steam rooms, and table games at casinos.

“We are elated that the overwhelming majority of our businesses are able to operate again,” Leslieville BIA coordinator Dominic Cobran said.

“The announcement does a lot to boost consumer confidence.”

Cobran, and other business owners in the community have noted that restaurants and bars have lost seating capacity in light of physical distancing requirements and Stage 2 outdoor patio dining-only rules.

With Stage 3 reopening and indoor-dining permitted again, he’s confident that restaurants and bars in Leslieville and East Toronto can recover – just in time to salvage the remainder of the summer.

“We do realize the virus is still there,” he said. “We’re redoubling our efforts to observe public health protocols.”

“It’s safe to say for a while we’ve seen thing starting to slowly go back to normal,” Cobran added.


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