Most of the Greater Toronto Area will be allowed to enter stage three of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening this week — but not Toronto itself.

The Durham, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Sarnia-Lambton and York regions will be allowed to join much of the province in stage three on Friday, Premier Doug Ford announced Monday.

Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex, where most of the province’s COVID-19 cases remain clustered, will stay at stage two.

“We’re on the right track,” Ford said. “We won’t rest until all of Ontario gets to stage three.”

Stage three will allow most businesses to reopen and many activities to resume. Indoor service at restaurants and bars can begin, along with live performing arts shows, sporting events, gyms and fitness centres and movie theatres.

However, physical distancing is still mandatory, and gatherings must fall within strict size limits — up to 50 people at a time can gather for indoor events, and up to 100 outdoors.

Health Minister Christine Elliott has previously said provincial officials need four weeks of data from stage two to properly assess whether regions are ready for stage three. Toronto and Peel will mark four weeks in stage two later this week.

Windsor-Essex, which has struggled to control outbreaks among farm workers, may have to wait a while longer. That region was allowed to enter stage two on June 25 — except for the communities of Kingsville and Leamington, which did so later on July 7.

“Please be patient,” Ford said. “We’ll get there shortly.”

The province is watching for lessons learned in other jurisdictions and is ready to take further steps if new cases begin to rise again, Ford added.

In total, Ontario reported 135 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

Most of the Greater Toronto Area will be allowed to enter stage three of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening this week — but not Toronto itself.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has asked Ford to put additional restrictions on bars, raising concerns about spikes in cases after reopenings in other jurisdictions. The Ontario Medical Association has also raised concerns about opening bars in stage three.

Elliott said the province is working with city officials to come up with a plan for Toronto. And Ford said he wouldn’t disagree if local chief medical officers placed more restrictions on bars in their regions.

“If you want to do it, you have the powers to do that,” Ford said.

How do the rules apply to short term rentals? I'm having trouble getting that clarified, specifically with what I'm seeing in some Airbnbs nearby.
We live in cottage country, just north of Toronto, and we keep seeing groups of 10+ people together, in one cottage, for days at a time. These people are coming from the city, which is still in Stage 2 while we're in Stage 3. It's growing increasingly unclear what's allowed and what's not allowed.
But I can't help but feel it shouldn't be happening during a pandemic. It just doesn't seem right to me.