Ontario will move to step 2 of its “Roadmap to reopening” plan on June 30, two days ahead of schedule. CBC News first reported the news yesterday. As part of the criteria for transitioning to Stage 2, the province had set vaccination goals of 70 percent of adults with one dose and 20 percent fully immunized. These two metrics are now over 76% and 29%, respectively – also above the thresholds for Stage 3, the final phase.
In a press release, the provincial government also highlighted the decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units. As of Wednesday, there were 305 people with COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units (including 10 from Manitoba), up from more than 450 about two weeks ago.
Stage 2 further eases public health restrictions, with indoor and masked social gatherings for up to five people. Likewise, up to 25 people could attend outdoor functions, while up to six people could dine together on a terrace.
Personal care services like hairdressers and nail salons would also reopen, provided masks are worn at all times.
Additionally, capacity limits on essential retail will increase to 50%, from 25% in step 1, while non-essential retail capacity will increase to 25%, from 15%.
Night camps can also reopen.
Ontario will likely remain in Stage 2 for 21 days as originally planned, the province said, “to allow the most recent vaccinations to reach their full effectiveness and to assess any impact … on key public health indicators. and health care ”.
Notably, the Waterloo region, which is battling an increase in the number of cases caused by the more infectious variant of the delta of concern, will not move to Stage 2 with the rest of the province next week.
The region’s medical officer of health said the move was intended to “avoid having to step back” and allow residents more time to get vaccinated, with a possible reopening in mid-July.
“This approach gives us the best chance of keeping the gains we have made,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said in a statement.
“It was a journey”
This morning, Dr David Williams was joined at his final COVID-19 briefing by his successor, Dr Kieran Moore.
Williams, who is due to retire tomorrow, has served as Chief Medical Officer of Health since mid-2015.
“It has been a journey. We’ve been through a lot together, ”Williams said of the past 18 months. The first case of COVID-19 in Ontario was confirmed on January 25, 2020.
He added that it was “an honor” to be the top public health official in the province.
For his part, Moore thanked Williams and said the residents of Ontario owed him a “great debt of gratitude.”
Moore, who was previously the local medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington, will officially take up his new role on June 26.
“We still have a lot of work to do to continue responding to this pandemic,” Moore said.
The provincial government says regular COVID-19 response updates will shift from Mondays and Thursdays to Tuesdays under Moore.
The briefing came as Ontario reported 296 more cases of COVID-19 today, marking the fourth day in a row with fewer than 300 infections.
The number of cases is down from last Thursday, when the province had 370.
Laboratories performed more than 29,500 tests and Public Health Ontario recorded a positivity rate of 1.1%, the lowest since September 25, 2020.
The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 294.
The health ministry also recorded the deaths of six other people with the disease, bringing the official death toll to 9,099.
Public health units collectively administered another 225,188 doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday, the most on a Wednesday and the second on record in a single day. Over 88% of these injections were second doses.
Later today, Premier Doug Ford will receive his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy in Etobicoke, according to his office.
Ontario continued to offer a second injection of AstraZeneca to those who received a first one despite the recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to opt for an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna instead.
“Premier Ford is looking forward to receiving his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which offers very good protection against COVID-19, including serious illness and hospitalization,” a spokesperson for his office said in an email.
“All Health Canada-approved vaccines available in the province are safe and effective, and we encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.