Coronavirus: Ontario health minister Christine Elliott on when province could enter Stage 1 of reopening

Coronavirus: Ontario health minister Christine Elliott on when province could enter Stage 1 of reopening
Coronavirus: Ontario health minister Christine Elliott on when province could enter Stage 1 of reopening

Are patios coming sooner than expected? It remains unclear, but Premier Doug Ford’s office says the province will not be entering Step 1 of their reopening plan this weekend.

Ontario’s health hinister did provide a little more insight into the government’s plans when it comes to their reopening tentatively slated for June 14.

“I don’t have a specific date. I don’t think it would be a week earlier but it may be a few days earlier that we may be able to proceed,” Christine Elliott said.

The Premier’s office tells 680 NEWS that “plenty of notice” would be given to businesses so they will be ready to reopen.

Step 1 of the province’s roadmap to reopening requires 60 percent of adults be vaccinated with one dose with hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and new admissions down.

Outdoor settings would expand to 10 people with up to four people able to dine together at a patio per table. Essential retail would be capped at 25 per cent capacity and non-essential retail – such as malls – would resume at 15 per cent capacity.

On the subject of reopening ahead of time, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the “data is less promising at this time,” pointing to a concerning rise in cases over the last few days.

On Wednesday, Ford said admitted he is cautiously optimistic the province could reopen just ahead of schedule but denied putting the economy first and ahead of students and teachers.

“I’m so hopeful that as things are going, we may be able to enter Step 1 safely earlier than June 14,” Ford said.

He then backtracked saying that the province would “stick to the plan” in light of the growing delta (B.1.617) variant being reported in Ontario.

Some critics accused the premier of prioritizing the economy over schools – the opposite of the approach championed by the province’s top doctor, who has said repeatedly that he believes schools should be the last to close and the first to open during the pandemic.

“Today [Wednesday], Doug Ford chose patios over schools. Patios over people,” Liberal house leader John Fraser said.

The first dose vaccination rate for eligible residents in Ontario is currently at 66 per cent, beyond where the province said they needed to be for Step 1 of the reopening plan to begin.

Ford says it’s not just vaccination rates that the government is looking at to determine the reopening timeline.

“We’re going to be opening up but we’re going to be opening up cautiously and carefully, very cautiously and very carefully because I do not want to happen what happened before and all of a sudden the cases go up.”

Ontario is reporting 870 new cases of COVID-19 today and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Elliott says there are 225 new cases in Toronto, 167 in Peel Region and 49 in the Porcupine Health Unit region.

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