TORONTO — Ontario is reporting 243 new COVID-19 cases today, and 24 more deaths.

That brings the province to a total of 30,860 cases — an increase of 0.8 per cent over the previous day, which is the lowest growth rate since early March.

The total includes 2,450 deaths and 24,492 cases that have been resolved — 240 more than the previous day.

Ontario is reporting another drop in the number of people in hospital — from 635 to 603 — a trend over the past several days.

The number of people on ventilators also dropped from 92 to 81, though the number of people in intensive care rose slightly.

The province reported completing 15,357 tests in the previous day — well short of its goal of doing 20,000 per day, though weekends often see fewer tests.

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford is set to announce details today about the second stage of Ontario’s reopening.

He will lay out the plan at a news conference this afternoon with Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips, Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

Ontario entered its first stage of reopening on May 19.

Ford had indicated that he would reveal details this week about Stage 2 in order to give businesses time to start getting ready.

The premier has also said health officials have been looking at a regional approach to reopening.

Two-thirds of the province’s cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, while some public health units are reporting few active COVID-19 cases.

The province is also getting ready for patio season by removing some regulations and restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Measures announced Monday will let licensed establishments set up a new patio or expand an existing one without the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario requiring an application or fee.

It won’t take effect, however, until bars and restaurants are allowed to fully reopen for business. 

Attorney General Doug Downey says it will give the hospitality sector more tools to be able to recover, and will help ensure physical distancing.

The measures for patios will still be subject to municipal approval and will be in place until Jan. 1. The new or expanded patio will have to be adjacent to the bar or restaurant, and the capacity must be 1.11 square metres per person or more.

Downey said a current regulation that patios have to have a fence or barrier of at least 0.9 metres around it will be removed.

“As long as they have a clear demarcation — it could be any number of things — then that would qualify,” he said. “We didn’t want businesses to incur significant costs for a program that will be in place through (one) patio season.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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