With daily COVID-19 vaccination rates picking up and cases going down, some are calling for Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan to start sooner than planned.
As it stands now, Step 2 isn’t slated to start until July 2, which will allow for, among other things, barbers and salons to reopen as well as malls.
But Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown says he thinks that should happen now.
“As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline and residents get vaccinated, we need to reassure the personal care services that they will be allowed to reopen. In my opinion, it could happen before July 2,” said Mayor Brown on Wednesday.
Hair salon owners are calling on the province to allow their industry to reopen, saying their establishments are safe and employ ample measures to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
The province entered the first phase of a three-step reopening plan last Friday. Non-essential retailers were able to reopen, patio dining resumed, and outdoor fitness classes restarted, among other things.
Hair salons and other personal care services, however, are only slated to open in Step 2, which won’t kick in until next month.
“You have created an underground economy and given the COVID case declines, I believe there is a pathway to safely reopen in advance of July 2,” Brown added.
@OntHospitalAssn does not agree. We need to stick with the Roadmap to Reopening framework & the time frames it lays out. CRCI ICU occupancy is dropping but is still too high. We are making great progress – so let’s stay patient. It’s just a little longer to go. #onhealth #onpoli
— Anthony Dale (@AnthonyDaleOHA) June 16, 2021
When asked about the chances of Ontario moving into Step 2 ahead of schedule, Premier Doug Ford was non-committal.
“We will sit down with the health table,” said the Premier. “The light is growing brighter, as we say, at the end of the tunnel. “We just have to hit that 20 per cent [of fully vaccinated adults] and we’re going to be good.”
Mayor Brown’s comments come as Peel Region’s top doctor continues to urge caution over the predominant Delta variant.
Dr. Lawrence Loh has spoken out over the severity of the variant while pressing the Ford government to allocate more second doses to high-risk communities, all the while encouraging residents to get fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“… I want to remind our residents these first steps to reopening are not a full return to normal. We do have high first-dose coverage but we have low second-dose coverage,” said Dr. Loh last week ahead of Step 1.
He says science shows that only 33 to 50 per cent protection is afforded against the Delta variant with one dose.
“That protection may not be enough to forestall a resurgence if we reopen and reengage too quickly.”
Ontario is reporting 497 confirmed cumulative cases of the Delta variant in new provincial data released on Wednesday.
Peel’s top doctor also touched on the frustration eligible residents have felt with second dose appointments after some admitted to travelling, in some cases hours away to get their second jab.
Dr. Loh said while he encourages people to do whatever they can to get fully vaccinated, he acknowledges the provincial booking system doesn’t always work in favour of Peel Region citizens.
“Approximately 34 per cent of our bookings, at this point, are non-Peel residents,” Dr. Loh said on Wednesday.
“We’re certainly hopeful that we’ll be able to get additional allocation so that we can continue to open up appointments.”
“We have also written to the province asking for away, especially given the focus on this area as a Delta area of concern, some opportunity to make sure that we’re ringfencing a larger number of appointments for our residents here in Peel,” said Dr. Loh.
Ontario is reporting 384 new cases of COVID-19 today and 12 more deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 71 new cases in Waterloo, 60 in Peel Region and 54 in Toronto.
With files from 680 NEWS business editor Richard Southern