Ontario is just nine days away from the end of the current provincial stay-at-home order, but it is still not clear what restrictions, if any, will be lifted when the order expires.
Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet will have to meet in the coming days to discuss what the next steps for the province will be. The end date for the current stay-at-home measures is May 20.
Some reports indicated the Ford government would be meeting on Monday to talk about a possible extension of the order. The Premier’s office confirmed to 680 NEWS that a stay-at-home order extension is not on Monday’s agenda.
Despite COVID-19 case numbers easing and vaccination rates surging, medical experts say it is not time to let up on current restrictions.
The expectation is any decision that is made will extend the order for at least two weeks, until June 2.
“We’re still at a point where the trajectory is on a downward slope, but it’s still taking a while for the numbers to come down,” said Dr. Thomas Tenkate, associate professor at the Ryerson School of Occupational and Public Health. “What we need to do is hold fast with the current restrictions to drive the numbers down to a level where we can start opening up.”
“I think we are still looking at June through July before we start to ease off.”
The province’s associate medical officer of health said last week that while daily COVID-19 case numbers are headed down, hospitals still face serious capacity issues.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe said she would be surprised if the economy fully reopens in 10 days when the current order is set to lift.
“Whatever is planned, hopefully, will be done very gradually and slowly,” she said. “We don’t want a wave four.”
Some experts are calling for the easing of some outdoor restrictions.
Public health experts argue that outdoor recreation offers people a good outlet while being relatively safe.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said last week the province currently has no timeline for the reopening of facilities such as tennis courts and golf courses.
She said the number of hospitalizations and patients in ICUs would have to go down and a backlog of surgeries would have to be worked through before the ban on outdoor sports can be lifted.
Ontario is expected to lower the age of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 40 across the province this week as it continues to expand its rollout.
The province is also due to begin vaccinating people with health conditions deemed “at risk.”
Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case count climbed back above 3,000 on Sunday as the number of new deaths nearly doubled over the previous day.
There are 1,640 COVID patients in the hospital in Ontario with 848 in the ICU.
With files from the Canadian Press