Ontario health official says Step 3 probably won't come early after all
Premier Doug Ford teased earlier this week that Ontario could move into Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen earlier than planned, but the province's new chief medical officer of health today made it quite clear that he is not in favour of shortening the 21-day period between steps.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Kieran Moore said the Delta variant is now becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in circulation in Ontario and he is watching closely to understand the impacts of the highly contagious variant in Israel and Europe.
"We must learn what's going internationally and the risk of Delta spreading," he said. "It is a difficult adversary."
Ontario is set to enter Step 2 of the province's three-step ropening plan on Wednesday, which will allow for gathering limits to expand and personal care services to reopen with restrictions, among other things.
With continuing improvements in key public health indicators and the provincewide vaccination rate, Ontario will move into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen on June 30 at 12:01 a.m.— Ontario Ministry of Health (@ONThealth) June 24, 2021
Do your part by following #PublicHealth measures and getting vaccinated. https://t.co/0bW3hWx6lu pic.twitter.com/tR8fjrtPhV
While the Roadmap to Reopen states that there must be at least 21 days between each step, Step 2 is arriving slightly ahead of schedule.
During a press conference Monday, Ford implied that he would like to see a similarly expedited schedule for Step 3, which allows for the reopening of indoor dining.
"There's no one that wants to open this province up more than I do, we're very very close," he told reporters. "If [Kieran] gives us the green light, then let's get this province open and start moving. I can't wait, I really can't."
But comments made by Kieran Tuesday suggest he has no plans to give that green light after all.
"We need to be cautious, we need to be prudent and we need that 21 days to be able to understand the impact of opening on our communities, as I said, because we never want to take a step backwards. We only want to be moving forwards," he said.
"I understand the community's frustrations. We've done very well with our immunization strategy, but we have a new adversary in Ontario, a more aggressive adversary, that we really need to be cautious about."
As the rules currently stand, Ontario will be able to enter Step 3 no earlier than July 21.
"I am an optimist," Kieran said Tuesday. "I would very much like us to move forwards and not backwards. I do want us to celebrate our high immunization rates and the achievements we have realized in Ontario, but I do think a 21-day interval is prudent and I personally dont want to see that shortened because we need to be data-driven in the face of this new enemy."
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