Here's how BC's faster COVID-19 restart plan compares to Ontario's

May 26 2021, 4:41 pm

BC unveiled a restart plan Tuesday where vaccination milestones unlock new activities much earlier than in Ontario.

Compared to Ontario’s reopening plan outlined last week, British Columbians are on track to have their more normal summer sooner than Ontario.

To recap, here’s Ontario’s reopening plan:

Reopening plan

Government of Ontario

And the BC government announced this plan Tuesday:

Effective immediately, BC is allowing small indoor gatherings with up to five people and reopening indoor dining with up to six people at a table.

By contrast, Ontario has decided to wait until about June 14 to move into Step 1 of its reopening plan, when restaurant patios will open and seat up to four people per table.

Both provinces have given approximately 60% of adults a first vaccine dose, which is the threshold for their first rounds of reopening. But Ontario officials say they’re waiting to relax the rules until mid-June to give people time to build up immunity — which usually takes at least two weeks.

BC’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, reminded residents at a press conference Tuesday that they’re not protected until two weeks after their shot but allowed individuals to make decisions about whether to dine out or invite others into their home.

BC has kept many more things open throughout the pandemic than Ontario. Patio dining and retail were only closed during the first wave of the pandemic in Spring 2020. Schools have also stayed open since June 2020.

British Columbians have consistently been encouraged to use local parks and beaches to get outside for exercise safely. Camping with one’s household has long been allowed in BC, and outdoor swimming pools in Vancouver opened as scheduled on May 22.


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By contrast, indoor dining and gatherings in Ontario will be forbidden until 70% of adults have a first dose and 20% are fully vaccinated. That will come on July 5 at the earliest.

By the time 70% of British Columbians are vaccinated (around July 1), they’ll be allowed to have friends over to their home with no restrictions, attend high-intensity group fitness classes indoors, and go to nightclubs with capacity limits.

Both provinces experienced a brutal third wave of infection in the spring, with Ontario averaging 4,300 new cases per day in mid-April, and BC averaging more than 1,100. Given that Ontario’s population is nearly triple that of BC, case rates per capita weren’t too far off.

Daily cases have come down with increasing vaccinations, and Ontario reported 1,039 new cases on Tuesday while BC reported 289.

Ontario health officials have said this round of reopening will be more cautious because they want cases to come down and stay low. ICUs became dangerously full during the third wave, and they still haven’t emptied out. On Wednesday, 672 COVID-19 patients stayed in Ontario’s hospitals.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has said he wants daily cases down in the 550 to 600 range before restrictions relax. That’s a level he believes contact tracers can handle.

Toronto and Peel have been under either a lockdown or Stay-at-Home order since mid-November, with only a brief break where patio dining was allowed and then taken away in a matter of weeks.

It’s only natural for Ontarians to look wistfully at the West Coast’s accelerated restart. But Canada’s most populous province is scheduled to reopen in time for a good summer too, with only a few more weeks of waiting.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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