The Ontario government announced Thursday the stay-at-home order will be extended across the province until June 2.
This is a two-week extension from the original expiry date of May 19.
“My goal is to have the most normal July and August possible,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference on Thursday. “Obviously, that won’t mean large sporting events or concerts but if we manage the next few weeks properly, I believe that we can have things in a very good place this summer.”
“I expect that by [June 2], so long as we stay the course, we will be able to open outdoor recreation.”
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said that as vaccinations continue, with a goal of administering the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 65 per cent of adults in Ontario by the end of the month, daily case numbers need to come down “a lot more.”
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health stressed that while Ontario’s daily reported COVID-19 cases have been below 3,000 for four consecutive days, totalling 2,759 on Thursday, that is just below the peak of the second wave.
“Everybody thinks that’s great for where we came from and that’s true, but we still have a ways to get back down because we didn’t get all the way out of the second wave before we went into the third wave,” Dr. Williams said. “We do not want to repeat that again.”
“We want to open and stay open… We do not want a fourth wave at all, and we certainly do not want one to occur right in the middle, as we’re coming out of a third wave.”
When asked about the likelihood of schools reopening in June, Ford said there has been conflicting guidance from health experts, teachers and labour partners.
“Some doctors are saying they want to open the schools, teachers unions [are] saying we can’t do that right now,” Ford said. “We need public health doctors, teachers and labour partners to agree on the best path forward and we also need consensus, we simply don’t have that right now.”
Beginning on May 31, youth between the ages of 12 and 17 and their family members who have not yet received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can book an appointment to receive their Pfizer shot. There will be dedicated clinics for this group during the weeks of June 14 and 21.
During Thursday’s press conference, Ford said that there is “one thing” that threatens the prospect of a summer with fewer restrictions, and that’s the federal government’s “porous border measures.” The premier added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “failed to keep contagious variants out of Canada.”
“This brutal third wave is fuelled almost entirely by variants that pass too easily through our borders,” Ford claimed. “It’s their job and they need to do it.”
The premier added that there is a “two-tier quarantine system” for travellers, one for individuals who can afford to fly to Canada via a private jet and another for those who cannot, and therefore need to quarantine at a hotel.
Ford said he has sent four letters to the federal government to increase border measures, specifically calling for the added requirement of pre-departure testing for domestic flights, hotel quarantine for travellers through land borders and a reduction in international travel.
“There’s two things Justin Trudeau’s responsible for, two things only throughout this whole pandemic,” Ford said. “Make sure we have enough vaccines, and we saw what happened there, now we’re getting a few more vaccines, which is good… And to make sure we secure the borders, and it’s just not happening.”
“My riding is right over the airport and all I hear is those planes just constantly coming in. Every time I look up I think, how many more variants are coming in?”
Ford also claimed that for 90 per cent of people with COVID-19, “its come in through airports or the land borders.”