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Ontario moves into the second step of the provincial reopening plan

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: The province of Ontario is moving into the second step of the provincial government’s reopening plan, sooner than originally scheduled.

On Thursday, June 24th, the government announced the province would move into Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopening on Wednesday, June 30th.

“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record-setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two, ahead of schedule, on June 30th, with the support of our public health experts,” Premier Doug Ford said, in a statement. “We are proceeding safely with the reopening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.”

Provincial officials cited the fact, over 76 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated and the low recent COVID-19 case numbers in the province, as reasons to move to the next step of this plan.

“Due to a continued improvement in key indicators, Ontario is ready to enter Step Two of our Roadmap. Allowing us to safely and gradually ease public health measures while continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Health Minister Christine Elliott’s statement read.

On Wednesday, June 23rd, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking stated, the province should exercise caution before making the decision to move to the next step.

“From a public health perspective, we, as the medical officers of health across the province, have continued to urge some caution with [the] reopening, especially recognizing some of the unknowns, relating to the Delta variant we know is circulating, in the province. As the total number of cases has continued to come down provincially, the proportion of cases identified or expected to be the Delta variant has increased. We know the Delta variant spreads easier than other variants, and we know one dose of the [COVID-19] vaccine is not as effective at preventing symptomatic illness from [this strain of] COVID-19 compared to [with] the other variants,” she explained.

Under Step Two of the reopening plan, outdoor allowed social gathering limits increase to 25 people, and indoor gatherings of up to five people are allowed. Personal care services, such as haircuts, will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, with masks required. Outdoor dining limits will increase to up to six people per table. Indoor religious services, such as weddings and funerals, will be allowed to operate at up to 25 percent of the room’s capacity. Outdoor non-contact sports will also be allowed. .

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