ontario reopen

Officials say Ontario can't reopen early after all due to spike in COVID cases

Those of us eagerly awaiting news about when Ontario will reopen have surely heard by now the mumblings that lockdown restrictions may be easing earlier than planned, giving us a jumpstart on a highly anticipated summer in which we can actually sit on patios, shop in "non-essential" stores and maybe even get haircuts.

Health Minister Christine Elliott revealed last week that it was indeed very much "possible" for the province to reach Step 1 of reopening before the expected date of June 14, which was apparently only "approximate" but which most of us were planning on.

And then just Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford told the public that he was "cautiously optimistic," blatantly stating that "as things are going, we may be able to enter Step 1 safely earlier than June 14th."

This of course got hopes up, but prematurely, it seems, as Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams, who is the one calling the shots in these matters, for the most part, has now said that case numbers are still too high for us to progess, despite high vaccination rates.

Though the province's 3-Step Roadmap to Reopening is based on vaccination numbers in the province — and the fact that we have well surpassed the vaccination rates to put us into Step 1 — officials are taking other health indicators, such as daily new case counts and ICU admissions of COVID patients, into account.

All of these figures have been dropping impressively in recent days and weeks as we remain in a full shutdown minus the stay-at-home order, but the province has seen slight increases in new cases in recent days: 914 on June 3 vs. 870 on June 2, 733 the day prior and 699 the day before that.

This caused concern for Dr. Williams, who said during a press conference Thursday that the prospect of reopening early is now "less promising" and will definitely be dependant upon numbers over the weekend, which he hopes don't continue to rise.

There is the chance though that it's just a temporary blip in an otherwise downward trend of cases, R-naught values (transmission rates) and per cent positivity, which now sits at below 3 per cent after spiking above 10 in April.

Many experts agree that a seven-day moving average of case counts is more reliable data than daily case numbers, and also that other stats need to be taken into account, especially when deciding public policy.

Here's hoping that case counts and other indicators begin to drop once more so the province can keep its word and stick to June 14 – at the very latest – for entering Step 1.

Seeing as Dougie loves to make big announcements about lockdown and reopening late on Friday afternoons — with next Friday being the 11th, with the following Monday being the 14th — that date seems likely.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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