While now may not be the moment to reopen the province at full capacity, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet unveiled a path forward to safely reopen the province at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The stay-at-home order will remain in place until June 2, but, as of Saturday, May 22 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario is reopening outdoor amenities, such as golf, soccer, tennis, skate parks, and basketball, and allowing outdoor gatherings of up to five people.
Ford said there was no decision yet on whether schools will reopen this spring.
As for the rest of the province — Ontario’s “roadmap to reopening” will be conducted in three steps, with the first step estimated to begin around June 14:
- Step 1 (estimated to begin around June 14, this step will remain in place for at least 21 days): will permit outdoor activities with limited well-managed crowding and restricted retail. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining for up to four people, essential retail at 25 per cent, non-essential retail at 15 per cent, outdoor religious services, and outdoor sports for up to 10 people.
- Step 2: (estimated to begin in July, this step will remain in place for at least 21 days): will require 70 per cent of adults to be vaccinated with at least one dose and 20 per cent to be fully vaccinated. This step will allow larger outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, larger outdoor religious services, personal care services, outdoor dining for up to six people, overnight camps, amusement and water parks, fairs, and outdoor cinemas.
- Step 3 (estimated to begin in late July or early August): will expand indoor gatherings where face coverings can’t always be worn. This step will require 70–80 per cent of adults to be vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine and 25 per cent to be fully vaccinated. This stage will allow indoor and outdoor gatherings, essential and non-essential retail open with limited capacity, indoor dining, indoor sports and recreation, and indoor attractions.
The news comes as Ontario’s Science Advisory Table recommended delaying partial reopening of the province until June 16.
— Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown (@SteiniBrown) May 20, 2021
According to the Advisory’s May 20 projections — maintaining progress on vaccinations and maintaining some public health measures until mid-June can help ensure a good summer:
- School re-opening will create an increase in cases, but this may be manageable.
- Outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities and should be encouraged.
“The direction of the pandemic has turned and, if we’re careful and cautious, we can maintain this momentum, and this momentum is what gets us to a good summer,” said Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, at a press conference at Queen’s Park on Thursday afternoon while providing an update on Ontario’s COVID-19 modelling data.
“The number of cases and hospitalization are falling. That is good news, but we need to temper this good news with the knowledge that our hospitals are still under incredible strain,” he added.
Brown noted that control of the pandemic, even in COVID hot spots, is improving as a result of public health measures and vaccinations, but the province still has a high number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs.
On Thursday, Ontario reported 2,400 cases of COVID-19 and over 45,400 tests completed. The new cases include 607 cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel, 224 in Hamilton, 181 in York Region, and 110 in Durham.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, 7,576,624 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered
Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.