The Ford government has extended the provincial stay-at-home order and all public health measures for another two more weeks
The order, which was set to expire on May 20, will end on June 2. Premier Doug Ford said his goal is to have the most normal July and August and the extension is necessary to make this happen.
“We need to do everything in our power to protect this summer for all Ontarians,” said Ford. “These are precious weeks we won’t put to waste.”
The province will be making those aged 12-17 eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccine on May 31. There will be special dedicated youth and family vaccine clinics during the weeks of June 14 and 21.
Virtual learning will also continue for the time being.
COVID-19 cases have been slowly decreasing amid the stay-at-home order and increased vaccinations since the surge of the third wave. The seven-day average is currently sits at 2,731 cases.
“We are progressing, we are getting there, but we are not quite there yet,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the announcement, saying it gives people and businesses clear expectations for the next few weeks.
“I hope over the coming weeks we have a clear and simple reopening plan from the province so every resident and every business across our city can plan, as much as possible, for June, July and August,” said Tory.
Many have been calling for the reopening of outdoor recreation activities amid the nicer weather, but the provincial government will keep them closed until at least June 2.
When asked why they aren’t opening outdoor recreation activities, Dr. Williams said it’s less about the activity itself. “When you open up a lot of facilities, it’s not sometimes the activity, it’s the congregate activity before and after.”
“They pick up another buddy, two or three go out, go golfing, there’s nothing wrong with golfing,” Ford said. “The problem is, then after golf they go back, they have some pops. That’s the problem.”
“We just can’t risk it … Just a couple more weeks and we will do everything we can to get things back to normal,” he added.
Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie said she’s hopeful the extension of the order will help avoid a “fourth wave of the pandemic,” she expressed disappointment that the restrictions on outdoor recreation were not amended.
“The science is abundantly clear that these activities are safe if proper precautions are taken,” said Crombie. “I will continue advocating for these restrictions to be lifted.”
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath expressed disappointment with that decision.
“I think it’s very clearly what leading public health and other science advisers are saying,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of room to give Ontarians a break.”
Ford has been visibly absent from the public since coming out of self-isolation after a COVID-19 exposure.
Ford also renewed his calls for tighter controls on domestic travellers and those who arrive through land crossings, saying Ottawa has yet to respond to his requests on these issues.
The premier said of the over 88,000 travellers who have landed in Ontario, one-third have been able to bypass the three-day hotel quarantine. They have also seen private jets landing at smaller airports and avoiding the quarantine.
“There are two sets of rules right now, one for those who can afford a private jet and those of us who can’t,” said Ford. “People are exploiting well-known loopholes that have been left in place.”
The premier has issued another letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, arguing additional measures — such as quarantine requirements for travellers coming into Canada by land — are needing to curb the spread of more contagious COVID-19 variants.
Trudeau said Thursday he was “frustrated” and “disappointed” with the Ontario premier.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also slammed Ford for being pre-occupied with attacking the federal government on border issues, saying he should in stead be doing more to prevent the predominate source of outbreaks – workplaces.
“The premier is using the border to deflect from his own failures to … avoid, or at least mitigate, the third wave,” he said.