WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex will be grouped with the rest of Ontario as the province rolls out it’s new three-step reopening plan.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement about the province’s reopening plan Thursday. The province is under a stay-at-home order until at least June 2.

In response to recent improvements to COVID-19 indicators, Ontario will reopen outdoor recreational amenities, with restrictions in place, effective May 22 at 12:01 a.m.

Ontario will move away from the regional reopening approach that was used following the province’s first two lockdowns and instead go sector by sector.

Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the roadmap the week of June 14. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.

The province said the roadmap to reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:

  • Step One: An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Two: Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Three: Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining.

The medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Thursday morning he was expecting a gradual approach, but he was not part of the consultations.

“I would anticipate that it has to be gradual,” said Ahmed. “It has to be focused more on lifting the restrictions on less risky activity and going all the way down to the risky activity for the later part of restrictions.”

Some of that activity includes the reopening of tennis courts, golf courses, and outdoor gatherings of up to five people.

“Yeah, we’re excited to get the good news from Premier Ford to be able to open now,” Dave Deluzio, Roseland Golf and Curling Club general manager.

“Everybody is pumped to get back out just hitting some balls, playing some mini golf, being outside, everybody wants to be outside doing something active and golf is that kinda sport,” says Silver Tee Golf and Virtual Gaming Centre co-owner Theresa Lecours.

Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Rakesh Naidu says there’s now a level of certainty for local businesses of when they can open their doors.

Naidu admits it’s unfortunate some businesses like hair salons and gyms will have to wait a bit longer to service their clients.

Naidu says it’s important people continue to get vaccinated so businesses can reopen sooner than later.

He tells CTV News with cases lower in Windsor-Essex compared to other parts of the province, he would have liked to see a regional approach to reopening the province’s economy.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex region is fluctuating this week. WECHU reported 16 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, 70 new cases on Wednesday and 36 on Thursday.The health unit says over 60 per cent of Windsor-Essex residents 18 years old and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ont. reopening roadmap

The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:

  • Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
  • Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
  • Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.

“While we know that now is not yet the moment to reopen, Ontarians deserve to know the path forward on what we will carefully reopen and when, starting with the settings we know are safest,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

The province did not provide a date for when schools will reopen to in-person learning.