With other Canadian provinces releasing restart plans this week that outpace Ontario’s, some Ontarians are wondering why they’re left waiting to get back to their favourite activities this summer.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford confirmed to Daily Hive that it may be possible for Ontario to enter Phase 1 of its reopening plan earlier than the forecasted date of June 14 if vaccination levels are high enough and cases are low.
But as it stands right now, COVID-19 indicators aren’t good enough to move into Phase 1 early.
“If we see a rapid improvement in key health indicators, the province can consider entering Step 1 earlier. However, based on current trends, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021,” Ivana Yelich, Ford’s director of media relations, told Daily Hive via email.
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Health Minister Christine Elliott said during the restart plan announcement that the dates forecasted in it were targets, and the province can enter the steps sooner or later depending on COVID-19 transmission.
“Because there are a wide variety of metrics involved, in addition to the vaccination rates, it is possible that we could reach the level of getting to Stage 1 before June 14,” she said on May 20.
She also encouraged Ontarians to get their shot as a way of speeding up the process.
“The sooner we can get more people vaccinated, the sooner we’re going to see things like case rates go down, hospitalizations go down, intensive care units not be as full as they are,” she said. “So we want everyone to please work with us, get vaccinated, please work with your families and friends and convince them to get vaccinated.”
Here’s Ontario’s restart plan:
The threshold for moving into Phase 1 is 60% of adults vaccinated with one dose, which Ontario has already reached. But Ford has said he’s waiting until mid-June so immunized people can build antibodies.
Over on the West Coast, BC moved immediately into its first phase of reopening this week, allowing restaurants to welcome groups of up to six people both indoors and outdoors. That province also allowed small indoor gatherings of up to five friends at people’s homes effective immediately.
In Alberta, restaurant patios and personal care businesses are scheduled to reopen on May 28 — which is two weeks after 50% of adults in the province had their first vaccine dose.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, has said he wants to be cautious so that COVID-19 infections come down and stay low. The weekly rolling average has decreased to about 1,400 new cases per day from a high of more than 4,300 during the peak of the third wave.
On Thursday, Ontario reported 1,135 new infections for a total of 537,280 since the pandemic began.