Looks like Ontario has to wait a couple more weeks for patios and non-essential shopping.
Despite speculation that Premier Doug Ford might reopen Ontario sooner than mid-June, Ford hinted during a press conference on Friday that the province will be sticking with its original timeline, restarting the economy "cautiously and carefully."
The premier was asked about whether or not he'd consider entering step one of the province's plan ahead of schedule, given the fact that Ontario has already exceeded its step one benchmark of 60% of residents having at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
"We're going to work closely on the guidelines, and that was June 14, and hit those targets," he said. "It's more than just the 65% and the second doses, we have to look at the ICU capacity — and thank goodness, we see it coming down — we have to look at the positivity rate, so there's a lot of other factors involved."
"It kills me to keep these businesses closed, but I have to for the long-term to protect everyone's health. For the short-term pain that we're going to face over the next maybe couple of weeks, there's light at the end of the tunnel. And everyone in Ontario knows we're going to be opening up, but we're going to open up cautiously and carefully," said Ford.
Step one of reopening is slated to begin during the week of June 14, which will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and patio dining of up to four people per table. Outdoor fitness classes and overnight camping at Ontario's parks will also be given the green light.
The premier also announced today that with Ontario hitting its vaccine targets earlier than planned, appointments for a second COVID-19 dose can begin as early as May 31 for residents 80 years old and older, and a "two-dose summer" is in the cards for everyone.