Business groups hope for best with province's reopening plan

Brenda Watkins
May 24, 2021

As of May 22, outdoor amenities in Ontario such as golf courses, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and soccer pitches will be allowed.

Premier Doug Ford says the province can start to loosen restrictions because COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations continue to decline while vaccination rates increase. Once that threshold is reached, outdoor gatherings for up to 10 people will be allowed, non-essential retail capacity would reopen at 15 per cent capacity, and outdoor dining would be allowed for up to four people per table. That same day, outdoor gathering limits of up to five people will be allowed. "The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to allow us to evaluate any impacts". The Canadian Paediatric Society and other children's health experts disagree with the Doug Ford government and are begging the province to reopen schools immediately in the interest of children's mental and physical health.

He said his Progressive Conservative government will be announcing an incentive to get people vaccinated and will bring in tighter public health measures in advance of the May long weekend.

No organized outdoor sports or recreational classes will be permitted, however, and outdoor pools and splash pads have not yet been given the green light to open.

Ford will be joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott and the province's top doctor at a news conference at 3 p.m.

Approximately 100 provincial offences officers are expected to visit about 1,500 workplaces in Toronto, Hamilton and regions of Durham, Halton, Peel and York between May 10 and May 28 to uphold the encouraging results previous inspections have delivered.

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So far, 10.19 million doses of different vaccines - Sinopharm, SinoVac and CanSino - have been procured from China. That would remove the risk of rare but serious blood clots, which have not been linked with Pfizer and Moderna.

"Almost 60 per cent of adults have received their first shot, but the speed at which we get through this reopening will come down to one thing: how quickly we get people vaccinated", Ford said. Three COVID-19 patients were transferred to northwestern Ontario this week to free up bed space. The province's current vaccination rate is 57.6%.

Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 58.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over.

The Stay-at-Home order now in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that can not be done remotely.

If passed by the Legislature, powers under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) will be extended to December 1, 2020 to ensure public health measures now in place can be extended and adjusted as necessary, to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and support a gradual re-opening of the province. Masks must continue to be worn where required and social-distancing orders remain in effect.

Nearly 50% of eligible adults in Canada have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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