Following the release of bold reopening plans in British Columbia and Alberta, there is word that the Ford government is considering moving up dates of Ontario’s plan.
Compared to other provinces Ontario’s roadmap to reopening remains extremely cautious but as COVID indicators improve the province may be tempted to speed up the gradual process in the interest of public perception.
CityNews is reporting the government would be willing to consider an earlier reopening that is, as of now, not scheduled to begin until June 14.
NEW: Senior Ford staffer tells me government "keeping a close eye" on Covid indicators to determine if earlier date to start re-opening economy could be considered. It's scheduled for around June 14th. Premier did say last wk earlier opening possible if #s dropped and they are
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) May 26, 2021
The Premier has mentioned that moving up the dates is a possibility if the COVID indicators continue to move in the right direction.
As Ontario vaccinates more of its population at an accelerated pace, the three-step reopening will be based on the supply and the daily rate at which people get the shot. The province will also factor in COVID-19 case counts, percent positivity, and hospitalization rates.
Once Ontario reaches a 60 per cent first shot vaccination rate then patio dining can return, retail can reopen with limitations and outdoor gatherings of 10 people would be permitted.
Each of the next two stages of the reopening roadmap would not begin for another 21 days. The provincial stay-at-home order will remain in effect until at least June 2.
Under Ontario’s Reopening Act, the province allowed for the resumption of multiple outdoor recreational activities this past weekend. Outdoor gathering limits for social gatherings and organized public events were also expanded to five people, including members of different households.
Albertan announced a three-stage plan on Wednesday tied to how many residents have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The plan will see most public health restrictions gone by early July.
The capacity for places of worship is to be increased to 15 per cent on Friday, and hair salons and restaurant patios will be able to open next week.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said that indoor dining, theatres, libraries and gyms will be allowed to open as of mid-June.
The four-step approach in British Columbia will gradually ease that province out of restrictions and could mean people would be able to attend live concerts, watch sports in person and choose whether to wear a mask by early September.
The launch of the restart program began with the relaxing of some restrictions on gatherings, sports events and dining, both indoors and outdoors.
Quebec and Saskatchewan have also outlined plans to ease health restrictions through spring and summer in stages, according to how many people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
While new infections in Ontario have been steadily dropping in recent weeks, the number of COVID patients in the hospital in the province remains too high. There are still over 650 people in the ICU which is more than double the threshold that puts pressure on the health care system.
The province has hinted their first priority may be the reopening of schools. Dr. David Williams has said he would have a recommendation on schools soon.
“I’ve been encouraging schools to open as soon as possible,” said Williams on Tuesday. “[In discussions] with our medical officers of health throughout the province — all of them want them to open. We know that next week would be an opportune time for some areas, with some areas having very low numbers day-over-day.”
The Toronto District School Board has already indicated if they get the word from the Ministry of Education they could have students back in class within days.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health for Peel Region, said with the accelerated vaccine coverage for teachers and students well underway, he would like to see schools reopen “sooner rather than later.”
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca called on Ford during a virtual press conference on Wednesday to allow individual public health units to make the call about whether or not it’s safe to reopen schools for in-person learning.