OTTAWA -- Ontario will move into Step 3 of its reopening plan on Friday, allowing patrons to go inside gyms and restaurants for the first time in months.

For business owners, the move forward, is a sense of relief. 

“Oh my goodness we’re really excited really and truly we are very excited,” says John Couse, owner of The Lieutenant’s Pump restaurant. “We’re going to open tomorrow for lunch at 11:30 and then we’re back to regular hours inside.”

The province’s fully vaccinated population is pushing 60 per cent, more than double what is required to begin Step 3, which will happen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday .

For months, restaurants have been barred from allowing indoor diners, and it has taken a heavy financial toll on many owners.

“It’s something that I’ve never experienced and it’s been a true challenge,” says Couse. “Everybody’s keeping their fingers crossed that we are on the road to normalcy.”

Under the updated rules, there are no longer limits to how many can dine at one table, buffets are allowed and indoor capacity is based upon keeping tables two metres apart.

Dance floors can also open at limited capacity to ensure physical distancing and outdoors, as many as 5,000 people, capacity permitting, can dance the day away.

Stadiums can also seat up to 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 spectators. Museums, movie theatres, casinos and concert halls can also open their doors.

Gyms can resume indoor operations, ceremonies, like weddings, and religious services can increase capacity as well, depending on the size of the space.

There will likely be less lingering in lines for shoppers as well. Non-essential retail can allow more customers in their shops as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Up to 100 people can meet outdoors for social gatherings or organized public events and indoors, a maximum of 25 people can gather in a home.