On July 11, Saskatchewan removed all public health orders, including limits on events and gathering sizes and mandatory masking. This is welcome news for churches and ministries that have been patiently waiting for the freedom to gather, worship and serve together.
Saskatchewan joins Alberta in lifting public health orders, with BC very close behind. As of July 1 and its Step 3, BC has no capacity limits on indoor or outdoor religious gatherings, no provincial masking order, and no restrictions on personal gatherings. As of August 2, New Brunswick will move to Phase 3 and lift all of its restrictions as well.
Meanwhile, Ontario will move into its Step 3 of its 3-step plan on July 16, five days ahead of schedule. Step 3 revises, but does not remove, public health orders and restrictions.
There are some important, significant, and welcome changes in Step 3:
- Indoor and outdoor religious gatherings are limited only by physical distancing constraints – this is great news for churches!!
- Indoor social gatherings have increased to 25; outdoor to 100.
- Day camps and overnight camps can operate if they follow the safety guidelines produced by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Step 3 is a step forward, but it is not the end for Ontario. New thresholds have been set: Step 3 rules remain in place until 21 days have passed, 80% of eligible Ontarians 12+ have received one dose, 75% are fully vaccinated, and other key public health and health care indicators remain stable. Upon meeting these new thresholds, “the vast majority” of public health measures will be lifted, except that “face coverings will also continue to be required for indoor public settings” on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Ontario’s plan remains a “three step” plan, but it’s not clear what to call the “post-Step 3” period, or when the remaining restrictions will actually be lifted.
The new rules have been incorporated into Ontario Regulation 364/20 which has the full list of provincial regulations for Step 3. You can read a partial summary of the new rules in Ontario’s July 9 press release.
What are the other provincial opening plans? See this summary chart. It has links to plans, thresholds, dates and a summary of key changes for camps, churches and personal gatherings.
Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.