ontario step 3

Here's why Ontario is still stuck in Step 3 of reopening after 21 days

As of today, Aug. 6, Ontario has been in Step 3 of the government's reopening plan for 21 days — the minimum stated amount of time the entire province must spend in any stage before moving forward.

So... when are we moving forward? 

Many in the province are eager to know, despite the fact that things won't actually change a great deal once we exit the framework, whenever that may be.

Still, Aug. 6 was the date most people had initially marked as the end of reopening and a return to normal life, based on the contents of Doug Ford's 3-step reopening plan, and they're now wondering what's up with all that.

It's a fair query with a pretty straightforward answer: We're still in Step 3 with no exit date scheduled (or at least announced).

Unlike what happened during Step 1 and Step 2, both of which saw Ontario reach its vaccination targets well ahead of time and allowed us to move forward earlier than planned, the goals for leaving Step 3 have not yet been met. Not entirely.

There are four milestones to reach before Step 3 is over, and only one has been ticked off Health Minister Christine Elliott's oft-tweeted checklist: 80 per cent of people over the age of 12 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of today, we're sitting at just under 82 per cent of people 12+ having recieved one dose, but only 72 per cent have yet to get two, putting us slightly short of our "75 per cent fully-vaccinated" benchmark.

Ontario also has yet to check off the third or fourth boxes, which respectively say that no public health unit can have less than 70 per cent of their total 12+ populations fully vaccinated and that "other key indicators" must remain stable.

When asked about when we might leave Step 3 last week during a press conference, Premier Doug Ford said simply that "we're going to hit our targets first."

"We aren't going to set a certain date. As you see, we're really trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible," said Ford at the time. "Whenever we hit those main targets — we'll hit them, I'll say probably in a couple of weeks, maybe sooner."

Of course, there's also the possibility that our existing targets could be changed.

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told reporters last week that the province was discussing whether or not to lower the 70 per cent every-public-health-unit-full-vaccination threshold to ensure that lagging regions didn't drag everyone back.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore, however, said on July 20 that vaccination thresholds could actually be raised to mitigate the threat of the Delta variant.

"If we remain at around 20 per cent of the population unvaccinated we won't build a community immunity and you'll get breakthrough infections in those individuals that are vaccinated because not all individuals will get full protection from the vaccine," said Moore at the time, suggesting that 90 per cent full-vaccination might be a better goal.

All we know at this time is that Ontario is definitely not leaving Step 3 today.

When we do, the province says it will lift "the vast majority of public health measures" including capacity limits, but that mask rules will remain in place provincewide for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.  

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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