lockdown end

This is when the Ontario lockdown could end and what could happen next

It's been more than a month of what was due to be a full 28-day lockdown in Ontario, and residents are wondering when the hell it's going to end.

Restrictions getting extended longer than they were originally due to remain in place is not exactly surprising at this point, given how many times it's happened to us before, but more than a year into the pandemic, people are understandably frustrated and experiencing some heavy COVID-19 fatigue.

The provincewide stay-at-home order that was implemented on April 8 was within days extended from four to six weeks total, lengthening with it the spate of emergency brake shutdown restrictions that were brought into effect on April 3.

At the same time of the extension, other more stringent measures were introduced: interprovincial travel restrictions, more prohibitive gathering limits and caps on religious services, reduced capacities in the retailers that were still allowed to open their doors and the closure of outdoor recreational amenities.

(Also increased police powers to enforce the order and the closure of playgrounds, both of which were later reversed due to backlash.)

The province is set to potentially open up further once more at 12:01 a.m. on May 20, in two weeks' time, when the current emergency orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) expire — but the question is, will that actually happen or will there be yet another extension?

Premier Doug Ford and his team are assessing health indicators on a daily basis, and have yet to quantify what it would consider acceptable numbers for daily new case counts, ICU admissions, and other metrics for us to open up again.

Under the coloured zone framework that is currently on hold, there were no firm rules for what a public health region's numbers had to be at to be placed in the Grey-Lockdown zone, other than a rapid increase in certain areas.

But for the Red-Control zone, the guidelines were a weekly incidence rate of 40 per 100,000 or more, per cent positivity among those tested as 2.5 per cent or more, "repeated outbreaks in multiple sectors and settings," an increasing number of large outbreaks and rising level of community transmission.

Given that these benchmarks are either vague or have an "or more" attached to them, it is hard to say what we should be aiming for at this point, but some experts seem to feel that we likely won't get to where we need to be by May 20.

An infectious disease specialist at Queen's University told the CBC on Thursday that he expects we will need to reach an incidence rate below 20 per 100,000 people were week — previously Yellow-Protect zone guidelines, which we are far from at the moment, though some regions could ostensibly get close by the end of May (Ontario is currently at 166.6).

At least one Medical Officer of Health of an Ontario region has also urged that the government keep current restrictions in place until after the May 24 long weekend, the holiday Monday of which is the first day that all adults age 18+ provincewide will be able to sign up for a vaccine through the provincial booking portal, the final stage of our rollout.

Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott also said in a press conference earlier this week that our numbers aren't even at the point where we can consider opening shuttered outdoor amenities, meaning we're quite far from opening anything else.

Meanwhile, many businesses continue to sit idle as they hemhorrage money after being closed for the better part of the last 15 months, and residents anxiously look at the approaching summer weather and friends that are living a much more normal life in those countries that are opening up.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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