KITCHENER -- Most businesses, including gyms, community centres, playgrounds, indoor restaurants and movie theatres, can reopen in Region of Waterloo and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph on Friday.

The regions will move into Stage 3 of the province's economic recovery plan, along with most public health units in Ontario, the provincial government announced Monday.

Region of Waterloo Public Health’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu Li Wang said the region was notified on the move into Stage 3 on Monday afternoon.

"This will be a welcome update for many in our community," she said. "We are able to move to Stage 3 because of the efforts of our residents to date."

Dr. Wang said people will need to remain vigilant as more businesses open their doors.

"I ask all residents to please continue to follow the public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community," she added.

Mandatory masking bylaws came into effect in the region on Monday. People need to wear masks in all indoor public spaces and on public transit, with some exceptions.

Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky said the move into Stage 3 is "welcome news for those businesses who have been waiting patiently."

"We can't lose sight of the fact, however, that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and we cannot let our guard down," an emailed statement from Jaworsky said in part. "This is still a serious issue and we must follow physical distancing."

He also advised businesses to be deliberate in their plans to welcome people back through their doors and stick to guidelines from public health officials to avoid another shut down in the future.

"Only open when you're absolutely ready, don't rush it," he said. "Nothing is more important than keeping everyone healthy."

Businesses such as the Apollo Cinema in Kitchener, are getting ready to welcome people back to their theatre.

"We are super excited," Director of Operations Cara Watson said. "We have been slowly planning our reopening."

The theatre has one screen, with seating for about 300 people. It will be restricted to 50 people under Stage 3 to follow the province's guidelines.

"We already planned to space out our seating and have designated seats within the theatre for people to sit in, to ensure spacing between groups of individuals," Watson said.

F45 Training Kitchener Sportsworld owner Brittany McLean said she's thrilled to be able to open again soon.

"It's been a really long four months of constantly pivoting to create ways to keep our members engaged," she said.

While restaurants can allow patrons inside again, physical distancing measures have made reopening not a viable option for some local businesses.

"We have eight tables, so to social distance it's two to three tables, which really will not pay the bills," said Dulce Baptista, owner of Breakfast, Blues & BBQs.

Baptista said the restaurant will stay closed, but she'll keep focusing on a food truck.

"Previously, people were driving to the restaurant, so I hope people will still drive to us," she said.

Indoor gathering sizes will increase to up to 50 people, a large increase from the 10 people currently allowed under Stage 2. Outdoor gatherings can be up to 100 people under Stage 3. People will need to maintain physical distance if they're gathering with people outside of their social circle.

The provincial government says certain activities won't be allowed because they are considered high-risk for the spread of COVID-19, including amusement parks, water parks, buffets, dancing at restaurants, and saunas and steam rooms.

Some regions, including the Toronto-area, Niagara and Windsor, will stay in Stage 2.

These regions will move into Stage 3 on Friday:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public HealthEastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

These regions will stay in Stage 2:

  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Peel Public Health
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

With files from's Sean Davidson

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.