MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- A number of business, as well as places of worship in London, St. Thomas and the surrounding counties will be allowed to reopen on Friday with some conditions.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also announced that the limit on social gatherings will increase from five to 10 people, as long as physical distancing is maintained between those from different households.

The changes come as the province implements a regional reopening strategy, with regions like the Greater Toronto Area and the Hamilton area, under slightly different rules.

Areas under the auspices of Chatham-Kent Public Health, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Huron Perth Public Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health can begin the next stage.

The areas in our region covered by Lambton Public Health, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit were not included in the reopening locations for this week.

The first two are a concern due to their border crossings, while the latter continues to deal with an outbreak among migrant workers.

Ford said in a statement, "Although this is extremely encouraging, I urge everyone to exercise caution and continue to follow public health advice as we are not out of the woods yet."

Among the locations and business allowed to open with property health and safety measures, according to the province, are:

  • Place of worship can open with physical distancing in place, and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building’s capacity;
  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

Additional updates on child care, summer camps and public transit to support those returning to work are expected soon.

Still, the province wants everyone to continue to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

A new update is expected every Monday on what can reopen and where.