Cautious Premier – Doug Ford sticking to June 14 timeline for reopening

There are now 1,023 people hospitalized in the province with 645 in the ICU. Hospitalizations are down nearly 200 since one week ago and ICU numbers have reached the lowest mark since April 14.

By Richard Southern, Lucas Casaletto

The Premier signalled on Friday that despite improving circumstances across the province, it’s unlikely that Ontarians will be enjoying a drink on a patio or shopping in non-essential retail before Step 1 of the reopening plan set for June 14.

Vaccination rates in Ontario are now in excess of 65 percent, beyond where the province said they needed to be for step one of the reopening plan to kick in. In this stage, larger outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, as well as outdoor dining for up to four people per table.

When asked by 680 NEWS if the reopening roadmap would be sped up, Ford said they’re in no rush.

“We’re going to work closely on the guidelines and that was June (14th),” said the Premier.

“We’re going to be opening up but we’re going to be opening up cautiously and carefully, very cautiously and very carefully because I do not want to happen what happened before and all of a sudden the cases go up.”

CityNews reported Thursday the government would be willing to consider an earlier reopening ahead of June 14 after the Premier hinted that moving up the dates is a possibility if the COVID indicators continue to move in the right direction.

Ford, however, made it clear that it wasn’t just vaccination rates that the government is looking at to determine the reopening timeline but also ICU capacity and positivity rates.

The Premier was equally as cautious when asked about the reopening of schools.


He defended his move to seek further consensus on the matter. On Thursday, Ford sent a letter to doctors, scientists, teachers, and unionists asking for their input on the prospect of students and teachers returning to class.

Speaking on Friday, Ford said he’s more than comfortable waiting for their decision despite the 5:00 p.m. deadline he made clear in the letter.

“If it takes a couple of extra days, so be it. This is a massive decision this is a decision that’s going to affect every single person in Ontario,” he admitted.

“When I spoke with the science table, Dr. [Adalsteinn] Brown told me directly that this can be [a] 6 to 11 percent increase that could equal to thousands of cases. Folks do you want to go back again? I don’t, I want to look forward, I want to make sure looking forward that we’re able to get the kids in camp I want to look forward to make sure we have a great September for the kids to go back into school.”

In the letter, Ford wrote that “no one wants to see our schools reopen safely more than I do,” adding that while his government understands the benefits of having kids return to class, it can only be done based on “sound scientific advice, consensus and considers potential or future risks faced by students and staff.”

He says he’s concerned about reopening schools due to the presence of more contagious variants of COVID-19, as well as relatively low rates of vaccinated teachers and students.

This comes as Ford and the province announced the interval for second doses would shorten to four weeks.

More precise second dose intervals will begin with older residents who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Those 80 and older will be able to book starting next week followed by the 70-79 age group who will become eligible to book on June 14.

Critics say the last-minute letter shows Ford is passing the buck on making a decision about schools.

“And this, this could affect our opening as well. So I want to make sure all the T’s are crossed I’s are dotted and I’m going to be super cautious,” he said.

As careful as the Premier was, he ended his first media availability in more than a week by trying to strike a positive note.

“We want the kids in camp at the beginning of July, so just hang in there everyone is going great.”

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