Ontario Premier Doug Ford just revealed that his government has some “positive news” to share regarding lockdown restrictions, which were once again tightened on Jan. 5 due to surging cases of COVID-19, and that we should be learning what’s going to change sometime later this week.
Ford was speaking to Bill Carroll on Ottawa’s News Talk 580 CFRA early Tuesday morning about the previous day’s historic blizzard, during which he drove around and offered rides to stranded motorists in Toronto, when he offered up the newsy nugget.
“We’ll get through this,” said Ford of the storm cleanup, likening it to the global pandemic that we’ve now been dealing with for nearly two years.
“And we’ll have a good announcement by the end of the week. We’ve got to give everyone hope, because what a great province we live in.”
*Record scratch* what?
After talking a bit more about the Toronto blizzard and Ford’s role in the day, Carroll asked the premier to elaborate on what he meant when he suggested an announcement was coming.
“You know something, there’s no one that dislikes these lockdowns more than I do. I actually despise them,” said Ford. “I take the advice off the chief medical officer and follow the guidelines, and when the doc comes to you, and you go for an appointment and you say you have something hurting, they tell ya ‘do this, do that.'”
“But we’ll have some positive news,” he continued. “I believe we’re going to make some announcements later this week about, you know, going back to other levels of restrictions.”
As it stands right now, Ontario is scheduled to stay in a modified version of Step 2 in the government’s Roadmap to Reopen until at least Jan. 26, 2022.
That’s based on the rule that states we must stay in each step of the roadmap for at least 21 days before moving on, however — a rule that the government has already broken multiple times.
Back in June, we entered Step 1 of the Ford government’s roadmap three days ahead of the “mandatory” 21-day period. We then moved on to Step 2 and Step 3 a few days short of the stated timeline as well.
Since we went back into a modified version of Step 2 to mitigate the spread of the highly-contagious Omicron variant and ease its effect on the healthcare system on Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m., we would theoretically reopen on Jan. 26 if public health trends go in the right direction.
It’s not yet clear what Ford’s government plans to announce or how restrictions will change, but any lifting will surely be welcome to small business owners after yet another closure of indoor restaurants, gyms and more.
Gathering limits are currently back down to five people indoors and 10 outside while a 50 per cent capacity limit is in place for retail stores, personal care services, libraries and outdoor attractions, among other settings.
“I just can’t stand these restrictions,” Ford told Carroll on Tuesday morning. “But in saying that we had two choices here: We could either go the Florida route, they have 65,000 deaths, which is totally unacceptable, or we’re a little more cautious… I always say one death is too many.”