Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer
The chances of large parts of Ontario moving soon to stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan are looking bright as the spread of the coronavirus remains slow in most public health units.
It’s been nearly three weeks since all of eastern and northern Ontario, as well as much of the southwestern part of the province, advanced to stage 2. That allowed the opening of shopping malls, hair salons, swimming pools, and bar and restaurant patios.
Data from those 24 public health units — everywhere but the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Lambton and Haldimand-Norfolk — show the spread of the virus remains largely contained.
“We hope to be able to move into the next stage as soon as possible,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday.
“It’s looking very good, but we still need another week’s data to really inform the situation, and then decisions will be made about the opening of stage 3.”
More than half of Ontario’s 34 public health units currently have fewer than 10 active cases (coronavirus cases that are considered to be still infectious). Fifteen health units have three or fewer active cases.
The parts of the province that were first to advance to stage 2 — including Ottawa, Waterloo Region and London — have a combined population of nearly 6 million. In these areas, since restrictions were eased on June 12:
- the combined number of new cases daily has averaged 27, down from a daily average of 34 in the four preceding weeks.
- the number of new cases reported daily has remained below 35 on all but one day
The trend in the daily number of new cases is the statistic watched most closely by health officials in determining whether restrictions can be lifted.
Provincial-level discussions are currently happening about when to announce stage 3, Elliott said. She said the decisions to be made include which parts of the province would move ahead and which measures would be relaxed.
“We have to do it safely,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We will do it safely, and we’re going to do it in steps as we did before. We just have to continue seeing the numbers go in the right direction.”
Provincial officials have said announcements about progressing to the next stage would be made on Mondays.
Soussan Kordi cuts a customer’s hair at Soussan’s Barber Shop in Kingston on June 12, the day that 24 of Ontario’s 34 public health units moved into Stage 2 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Those areas, including all of eastern and northern Ontario, could be the first to be approved for Stage 3. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)
— CBC news