Ontario’s restaurant workers will receive COVID-19 vaccine in phase 2, officials now confirm

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Ontario's restaurant workers will receive COVID-19 vaccine in phase 2, officials now confirm


TORONTO – Ontario officials confirmed on Monday that restaurant workers will in fact be included in Phase 2 of the COVID-19 deployment in the province, although they were unable to do so once week earlier.
The question of where members of the food and beverage industry fit into Ontario’s vaccine distribution plan has baffled those advocating for workers since the government released the list of people eligible for the vaccine.

On March 5, officials released a detailed list of people who will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 2.

As part of this categorization, workers have been divided into two priority groups. The first included teachers, educators and workers in the food industry or agriculture. The second included high-risk and critical retail workers, such as those in grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as low-risk workers in financial services.

Restaurant staff or members of the food and beverage industry were not specifically mentioned.

CTV News Toronto contacted the Department of Health five days after the list was published to confirm whether or not restaurant workers will be included in Phase 2 of the deployment. After a week, a ministry spokesperson sent out a statement that only reiterated the list already presented by health officials.

When asked again if this meant restaurant workers would not be included, CTV News Toronto received no response.

Restaurants Canada was also informed by government officials who interpreted the list that the industry would not be included in phase 2 and that employees would be vaccinated based on their age category.

Meanwhile, James Rilett, vice president of the group’s Central Canada division, told CTV News Toronto last week that updated documents may be forthcoming regarding vaccine eligibility.

“So that may change, but for the moment, restaurant employees are not covered by the deployment of phase 2,” he said at the time.

However, on Monday, three government officials appeared to confirm otherwise. Both the Department of Health and the Premier’s Office have confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the restaurant workers will be part of Phase 2, along with the province’s solicitor general.

No explanation was provided as to why this was unclear earlier this month, and no official government documents or websites have been updated to specify that catering workers are included.

Speaking to CTV News Toronto on Monday afternoon, Rilett said he had not heard the news in writing, saying he had been receiving messages from officials since last week saying “it’s implied That restaurant workers would be included as they cannot work from home.

“He says it’s not ruled out, some say it’s implied, but they also say they’re currently working on advice for public health,” Rilett said. “Until I see it in writing, I won’t feel comfortable… no one has come out yet and put it in writing.” ”

Under the government’s current COVID-19 distribution plan, essential workers who cannot work from home will start getting vaccinated in June. In phase 2, which is scheduled to begin in April, anyone aged 60 and over, who has an underlying health condition, lives in a collective environment or is part of a vulnerable population in a COVID-hotspot. 19 with an incidence rate will receive their vaccines first.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about this period Monday afternoon at a press conference. Just before the weekend, his government allowed restaurants and bars on the strictest level (gray) of the Lockdown Framework to open patios while increasing dining capacity inside the second strictest level ( red) at 50%, with a maximum of 50 people. .

“I understand the situation they’re in, but you know something we have to be super, super careful, but for mental health, I’m telling you, we needed it,” the prime minister said of his decision to open patios. “We will continue to focus on the most vulnerable, the most vulnerable are 80 and over.”

The solicitor general said residents should not be so determined about when they will get their vaccine, but he stopped short of saying whether the June deadline was going to be reassessed.

“As the supply increases, the dates decrease, and that’s a positive thing,” said Sylvia Jones. “I think we are all anxious to make sure that everyone who has access to the vaccine gets it quickly.”

When asked if there are any plans to move restaurant workers back up the priority list given the reopening of indoor restaurants across much of the province, the Solicitor General responded: ” I don’t think politicians should be making these decisions. ”

“The scientific table, bioethicists, clinicians have been working tirelessly on this for several months… we have relied on their advice in the past and we will continue to do so in the future.

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