Ontario’s stay-at-home order will be extended until “at least” June 2. Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Thursday afternoon at a press conference. The province-wide stay-at-home order was put in place on April 8 and was set to expire on May 20 prior to the Victoria Day long weekend.
But as daily COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease, Ford said “we just can’t open up too quickly”.
“Make no mistake, we’re not out of the woods yet,” Ford said, noting that we must stay vigilant. “We need to keep driving cases down and easing the pressure on our hospital.”
Over the next couple of weeks, the government would like to see lower hospitalization numbers, more vaccinations, and less COVID cases. They will review the metrics on June 2 and make a decision on how to proceed from there.
“That is why I expect that by June 2, as long as we stay the course, we (will be) able to reopen outdoor recreation, by then we will provide more details of our plan to carefully and safely reopen the province,” Ford said.
The stay-at-home extension news comes as Ontario reported 2,759 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with over 47,600 tests completed. The new cases include 774 cases in Toronto, 602 in Peel, 258 in York Region, 147 in Durham, and 133 in Hamilton.
As of Thursday morning, 6,629,363 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Although Prime Minister Trudeau on Tuesday stated that a one-dose (vaccination) summer will set us up for a two-dose fall, when we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, work, and “normality,” Ford sounds more ambitious.
“Our goal is to have an as normal July and August as possible” Ford said at the press conference, adding that he doesn’t believe in a “one-dose” summer, but a “two-dose” summer.
“A one-dose summer is just not good enough,” he said.
Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, added that he would like to see COVID numbers drop below 1,000; and would like to see what the province is like in a “vaccinated reality” as well as a variant-of-concern reality. As of Wednesday May 12, there were 101,232 cases of the U.K. variant, 574 cases of the South African variant, and 1,727 of the Brazilian variant.
In addition to the stay-at-home order, international travel and the spread of variants was a hot topic at Thursday’s press conference. Ford said that private jets are landing “all over the province,” and that there’s a “two-tier quarantine system,” adding that some travellers are skipping mandatory quarantines.
The third wave, Ford said, has been fuelled almost entirely by variants that pass through Ontario borders.
Ford urged the federal government to “step up and do what’s right and what’s necessary.”
“People (are) easily exploiting well-known loopholes,” when entering the province Ford said. He added that the federal government needs to protect us all from a fourth wave fuelled by variants, by, for instance, reducing international travel.
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