Ontario tips over threshold for moving to Step 2. What happens next?
TORONTO -- Ontario passed the threshold for moving into Step 2 on Friday but the province's top doctor said he would only consider speeding up the reopening process by "a day or two."
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment on Thursday during a briefing at Queen's Park.
He said it's possible Ontario could move into Step 2 slightly earlier than the original July 2 date, but dismissed the idea that it would come any earlier than that.
"There's an end to the journey in sight," Williams said. "Let's make sure we get there safely, rather than doing something careless or reckless along the way."
"We want to make sure we’re careful as we go forward."
Ontario entered Step 1 on June 11, which was three days earlier than the original target set by the government.
According to the province’s reopening plan, Ontario must wait at least 21 days to assess the COVID-19 trends before easing restrictions further.
"Let's stay the course," Williams said. "We're going to have to move the yardstick even further to get to Step 2."
"People just have to be patient."
On Thursday, Ford said he would only green-light an early move to Step 2 if it is approved by Williams.
"There's no one who wants to open this economy more than I do,” Ford said. "I just want to make sure we do it cautiously. I want to get the stamp of approval from all the docs and we’re going to be well on our way."
To enter Step 2, 70 per cent of adults need to be vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
To date, 75 per cent of Ontarians have received their first dose, while 20 per cent have had both doses.
The province has previously said it wants to wait two weeks after hitting the threshold to ease restrictions. The final decision would be made by cabinet at Queen's Park.
Infectious disease specialist and member of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine task force Dr. Isaac Bogoch said Thursday that there should be flexibility within the reopening plan depending on public health trends.
"Those dates should not be set in stone," Bogoch said. "There should be some flexibility with those dates and we have to be able to pivot."
Step 2 will allow for indoor gatherings of up to five people, along with outdoor gatherings of 25 people.
Outdoor sports and leagues can resume, along with personal care services, where a face covering can be worn.
Indoor religious services can also resume at 15 per cent capacity.
Essential retail restrictions will be eased, with essential retailers allowed 50 per cent capacity and non-essential 25 per cent.
Outdoor amusement and water parks can also reopen. Outdoor cinemas, performing arts, live music, events and attractions can also being to operate again.