Residents who were holding onto hope that the lockdown in Ontario may soon be ending are now being told otherwise. Ford recently revealed that the province could start re-opening by Victoria Day weekend. However, in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the premier clarified that it is "absolutely not going to happen."
Earlier on Wednesday, Doug Ford's stance on easing Ontario's lockdown by Victoria Day seemed hopeful, even telling Newstalk 580 that he expected the province to start re-opening the economy by the long weekend.
However, the premier is now clarifying that it is "absolutely" not the case.
In the press conference, he stated that there is no given date for when the province will be completely re-opened, and they will be doing so gradually.
When asked by reporters about Ontario's lockdown easing by the long weekend, Ford clarified, "I'm sorry, but no... everything is conditional on the health and well being of Ontario.""What I was saying, is can we start opening up a trickle of the economy? I have got to be very, very clear, there is never going to be one date that we just open up the economy."
"By no means are we going to have the May 24 weekend to open things up. That is absolutely not going to happen."
While Ontario's lockdown will be in place until at least mid-May, Ford stressed that everything will be done gradually.
In the interview with Newstalk 580, he mentioned that schools would be one of the last places to re-open their doors.
"I think it'll probably be later on," the premier stated. "Our biggest fear is this spreading within our schools. I know our kids are resilient but, still, our number one concern is protecting our kids out there."
Mayor John Tory also announced earlier this month that Toronto was in the process of creating plans to re-open the city.
However, like the premier, Tory stated that when this process gets underway, it could take several months to be completed.
On Monday, health officials revealed that Ontario's COVID-19 cases were currently on track for the "best-case scenario."
However, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health warned that a second wave of the virus could hit again.
Ford has expressed his fears about a resurgence of the virus in Ontario. "My biggest fear is all of a sudden we get another wave and it hits us," the premier said last week.
On April 13, the premier also decided to extend the province's state-of-emergency order for an additional 28 days, saying it would be "irresponsible" to re-open the economy too soon.
"I want to make sure we do it properly, cautiously, and not just open up the floodgates," he said at the time.
Plus, Ontario health officials have predicted that the impact of the pandemic could last up to two years, or until a vaccine is approved and rolled out to the masses.
It seems that for these reasons and many others, the premier has decided not to make any promises about when restrictions can be lifted.
However, Ford reminds Ontario to remain optimistic. "In years from now when we look back on this critical period, the virus will not define this moment, we will define this moment," he said.