POLITICS
07/29/2020 09:58 EDT | Updated 07/29/2020 12:53 EDT

Toronto, Peel Enter Stage 3, Indoor Gatherings Bump Up To 50 People

Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 as it deals with farm outbreaks.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford takes a question from the media during an announcement in Ajax, Ont., on July 28, 2020. Ford says Ontario has made "tremendous progress" fighting the novel coronavirus but "we are not out of the woods yet."

TORONTO — Ontario reported just 76 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, which is the lowest day-over-day increase in cases since late March.

The total number of cases in the province now stands at 38,986, which includes 34,741 cases marked as resolved and 2,769 deaths.

Ontario reported one new death related to the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. There were also 174 cases newly marked as resolved.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the number of people in hospital, in intensive care and on a ventilator all dropped. She adds the province was able to complete more than 27,000 tests the previous day.

The numbers come as the province announced that more businesses and public spaces in Toronto and nearby Peel Region will be able to reopen on Friday as those areas join most of Ontario in Stage 3 of the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

But the province said the Windsor-Essex region, which has been grappling with outbreaks on farms, will remain in Stage 2 for the time being.

In a release issued Wednesday morning, the province said it will continue to monitor the situation in Windsor-Essex and provide assistance through measures such as on-farm testing.

The three areas had been held back in Stage 2 because officials said they wanted more data before giving the green light for a broader reopening.

Twenty-four of Ontario’s 34 public health units were allowed to enter Stage 3 on July 17, with another seven joining them on July 24.

While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we’re asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly.Ontario Premier Doug Ford

In Stage 3, nearly all businesses and public spaces can reopen, with health measures in place, and people can gather in larger groups.

Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people and outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.

“While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we’re asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

“We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols.”

Two cities in Stage 3, Ottawa and Sudbury, have seen new cases of COVID-19 emerge in recent days, but Ford said Tuesday there are no plans to roll back the reopening in any areas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 29, 2020.

Earlier on HuffPost:

With files from HuffPost Canada