OTTAWA -- Personal care settings, businesses in shopping malls and indoor dining rooms will reopen in Ottawa next week for the first time in more than two months.

Citing the province’s vaccination rate and a steady decline in COVID-19 case numbers, Ontario will move to Step 2 of reopening a few days ahead of schedule on June 30.

“Due to the continued commitment of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and going out to get vaccinated, we have seen our key health indicators continue to improve across the province,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health in a news release. “While we can now begin preparing to ease public health measures under the Roadmap, the fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must continue adhering to the public health advice and measures currently in place to maintain this great progress.”

Ottawa and Ontario were originally scheduled to enter Step 2 on July 2, 21 days after entering Step 1 on June 11. Step 1 allowed non-essential businesses to reopen, bar and restaurant patios to host four people per table and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches was asked Wednesday if Ottawa could move into Step 2 earlier than July 2.

 “It’s likely something we could handle here in Ottawa,” said Etches. “When we look at our COVID level, it is down to the levels we saw last summer in terms of the hospitalizations which of course are a solid indicator of the severity of the infections.”

Dr. Etches adds Ottawa residents’ needs to “proceed with caution” as the COVID-19 restrictions are eased until vaccination rates increase.

“I would encourage people to continue what they’ve been doing successfully, which has led us to this place, in terms of choosing the lower risk activities, using the skills that we have to have more distance between people and use masks indoors. These things will enable us to continue progressing step-by-step.”

This is some of what is allowed in Step 2:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people
  • Indoor social gatherings with up to 5 people
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions
  • Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance
  • Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions
  • Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions