Doug Ford pretty much just confirmed that gyms are about to reopen in Ontario
When will gyms in Ontario finally be able to reopen again after their fourth mandated full shutdown?
Fans of indoor workouts are keen to know, but likely not as keen as the owners of thousands of small fitness businesses forced to close again on Jan. 5 when the province moved back into a modified version of Step 2 to mitigate the spread of Omicron and its impacts on hospitals.
Based on the Ford government's current plan, which stipulates that any new measures will be in place for at least 21 days "subject to trends in public health and our health system," all of Ontario is scheduled to stay modified version of Step 2 in the Roadmap to Reopen until at least Jan. 26, 2022.
That's exactly one week from today — though it's of note that Ontario has entered new steps of the roadmap early in the past, and that Premier Doug Ford has been hinting in recent days that "positive news" is coming soon.
Ford said during a radio interview on Tuesday that "I believe we're going to make some announcements later this week about, you know, going back to other levels of restrictions."
This raised eyebrows and sparked debate over what the premier was promising; his own chief medical officer of health has, after all, refused to speculate on when things could reopen in the province, despite expressing optimism this week over how trends are moving.
"I'm starting to have more hope and cautious optimism. For the first time in several weeks, the number of hospitalizations and cases in the intensive care unit is increasing at slower pace," said Dr. Kieran Moore during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
"This is an encouraging sign that we may may be reaching the peak of Omicron transmission in Ontario in the coming weeks. While this gives me more hope. We must remain cautious and humble in the face of this aggressive virus."
Ford continues to seem more than hopeful, however, reitering today at Queen's Park that his government will soom make a lockdown-releated announcement — and this time he was more specific.
This is the 3rd day in a row Premier Ford has said a reopening announcement is coming this week. Today he says it will be a "good announcement for restaurants, gyms and folks that have been closed." #onpoli pic.twitter.com/ETyLfQ6ubx— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) January 19, 2022
"We look forward to having a good announcement for restaurants, gyms and other folks that have been closed," said Ford while speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, referring not only to gym and restaurant owners, but to people working in all industries affected by this most-recent shutdown.
When asked about all of the small business owners who are eagerly awaiting his promised announcement, Ford said that his "heart breaks for them."
"I'm a business person, right from day one, and I understand the needs they have, and the payroll that they have to make and other areas where we are putting every resource possible to make sure we support them," said the premier.
"But nothing makes up for when your business is closed. What makes up for that? Let's open the businesses up and hopefully the patrons will come back and feel confident that they can go to their favourite restaurant or favourite gym or a banquet hall."
"That's the most important thing," said Ford, suggesting for the third time this week that indoor dining and fitness centres will soon reopen. "And I look forward to making an announcement this week."
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