Federal health officials have released a roadmap for life after Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The framework, published by the Public Health Agency of Canada on May 14, lays out what health measures can be lifted and when, as more and more people are immunized.
The three-season outlook anticipates what vaccination coverage will be through to the fall of 2021 and how life can return to pre-pandemic normalcy if certain benchmarks are reached.
Throughout the spring, COVID-19 cases are expected to remain high, and vaccine coverage will be low.
Canadians should continue following local public health measures, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, whether or not they have been vaccinated.
“More people need to be vaccinated before restrictions can be lifted,” Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Health, said at a Friday afternoon press conference.
Across the country, people are advised to stay home, say safe, and get vaccinated when it is their turn. As of May 14, more than 50% of eligible Canadians have received their first dose.
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Once the summer rolls around, officials project that COVID-19 cases will be low, first-dose vaccination coverage will be high, and second-doses will be accelerating.
If 75% of eligible Canadians have one dose and 20% have a second dose, restrictions can begin to be lifted this summer.
“You can look forward to small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends,” officials said.
Although crowds should be avoided and public health measures must still be followed, Canadians will be able to go camping and hiking, have picnics, and enjoy time on patios.
In the fall, health officials anticipate that COVID-19 cases will remain low and two-dose vaccination coverage will be high.
If 75% of those who are eligible have received two doses by autumn, more public health measures can be lifted at the local level.
Once that milestone is reached, Canadians should be able to do more activities indoors with people outside their households, officials noted.
Indoor sports and family gatherings can resume, and colleges and universities can begin in-person learning at that time.
“However, COVID-19 will not be eliminated, so you will still need to follow some public health measures,” officials said.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that face masks would likely be the last layer of protection removed.
“This is a roadmap for Canadians. This gives Canadians a vision of what it looks like as we proceed down this vaccination path together,” Hajdu said.
“The best reason that someone should get vaccinated is to save their own life, to protect themselves from COVID-19, and to stop the spread to their family and their community.”
To date, Canada has seen 1,312,408 COVID-19 cases and 24,825 virus-related deaths.