WINDSOR, ONT. -- COVID-19 restrictions will loosen two days earlier than expected in Windsor-Essex and across the province.

That means hair salons and malls can reopen, team sports can resume in larger numbers and small indoor gatherings are allowed.

The Ontario government announced Thursday it is moving the province into Step 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30. It was previously set for July 2.

Colleen Lippert, owner of 2 Waves Beauty Salon, said she is “very excited to get back to work.”

“Two extra days is two extra days to get the business back up and running and staff working,” says Lippert.

She plans on opening Canada Day. She says there’s no sense in opening one day and closing the next.

In order to enter Step 2 of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks.Step 2 - Roadmap to reopen

As of Wednesday, over 76 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 18 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 29 per cent have received their second dose.

“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.”

In Windsor-Essex, nearly 75 per cent of individuals over 18 have one shot and more than 25 per cent have been double-dosed with a COVID-19 vaccine.

There were zero new COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex on Thursday, no deaths and no outbreaks. The region only has 54 active cases.

WECHU medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Wednesday the region is ready to move to Step 2.

“I think that it is something that is possible in our region given what we are seeing in our community,” Ahmed said.

Step 2 of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of more outdoor activities and limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn, with other restrictions in place.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
  • Indoor social gatherings and organized public events 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.

Government officials say while the province has surpassed Step 3 vaccination targets, Ontario may remain in Step 2 for a period of approximately 21 days to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to evaluate any impacts of moving to Step 2 on key public health and health care indicators. When it is determined to be safe, officials say “the province will promptly move to Step 3” of the Roadmap to Reopen.

Step 3 would allow indoor dining and indoor gyms to reopen.