OTTAWA -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says 24 public health regions in Ontario will enter Stage 3 at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 17. All eastern Ontario health units, including Ottawa, are included in this list.

In Stage 3, the government says nearly all businesses will be allowed to reopen and the maximum size of public gatherings will increase.

Businesses that can reopen include indoor dining in restaurants, bars, concession stands, and other food and drink establishments; gyms and fitness studios, with safety protocols in place; playgrounds, community centres and libraries; and beauty salons can resume services that involve customers' faces like facials and some piercings. 

Casinos can reopen but table games will not be permitted. Nightclubs can only reopen to serve food and drink. Dancing is not allowed in Stage 3.

Indoor gatherings will increase to a maximum of 50 people and outdoor gatherings will increase to a maximum of 100 people. Physical distancing is still required, so gathering limits are subject to the amount of space any individual indoor or outdoor area has available.

Despite the larger cap on gatherings, Ontario's "social bubbles" remain at a maximum of 10 people.

Some businesses that will not be reopening in Stage 3 are those considered "high-risk" for large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing or challenges with keeping up with COVID-19 sanitation requirements.

The businesses and activities that will not be open or allowed in Stage 3 include:

  • Amusement parks and water parks;
  • Buffet-style food services;
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
  • Overnight stays at camps for children;
  • Private karaoke rooms;
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

Ottawa was among the first regions allowed to ease restrictions when Stage 2 came into effect June 12.

Since then, the number of active COVID-19 cases has remained relatively steady. 

Ottawa Public Health announced 161 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 between June 12 and July 13; however, at least five cases were also removed from the total case count as they were deemed to be in residents from outside of Ottawa.

10 new cases were announced on Monday, bringing the number of active cases to 59. Two people remain in hospital with one in the ICU.

During Stage 2, there were two days where no new cases were announced by OPH. Six new COVID-19 related deaths were announced in the past month. Ottawa is currently on its 17th straight day of reporting zero new COVID-19 deaths.


Changes have also come to everyday life, with masks being made mandatory in enclosed public spaces in Ottawa by public health order. A mandatory mask by-law will be discussed at Ottawa city council on Wednesday, which includes fines for non-compliance.

Under the public health order, you are allowed to temporarily remove your mask indoors if you are receiving services, eating or drinking, participating in fitness or water-based activities, or for an emergency.

"If not now, when?"

Local business owners were eager Sunday to find out what it Stage 3 would mean for them.

Some have had to keep their doors closed since the start of the pandemic.

"The services that we do are generally pertaining to the face, and that’s prohibited in phase two," said Kim Bui, co-owner of Pure Beauty Studio, which remains closed.

She’s hopeful the next phase will allow her to reopen her business.

"We should be able to reopen because, if not, our livelihoods are at stake. We have families to feed, roofs to keep over our heads, and just a business that simply is a dream really."

Meanwhile, other businesses have been able to reopen amid Stage 2, but owners say it has come at a cost.

"Right now, we’re just hoping to stay relevant; we’re hoping people will support us and drop by,” said Curtis Houlden, owner of Tail Gators on Merivale Road.

Houlden said he has been able to reopen a small patio four days a week, but it isn’t financially sustainable and he hopes that will change soon.

"I’m always trying to look at the positive, but the reality is, to answer that question, for sure I’m frustrated, because if not now, when?"