WINDSOR, ONT. -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford is signalling he’s ready to sit down with his health and science tables to talk about accelerating Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan.

“I just want to tell the people of Ontario, there’s no one who wants to open this economy more than I do. I just want to make sure we do it cautiously,” the Premier told reporters Thursday.

Ontario previously indicated that won’t happen until July 2, but positive trends in the fight against COVID-19 has the region’s medical officer of health on board with an earlier date.

“I think we are in a position that we can open up sooner than later,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Dr. Ahmed says the decision is up to the province and he hasn’t been asked to weigh in, but noted some positive trends that put the community in a good place.

“Let’s say if the trend continues, if the province announced that maybe this weekend, or the next weekend we can move to the next step, I’ll be comfortable with that,” he says.

To enter this step, 70 per cent of adults need to be vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent with two doses. Windsor-Essex County has achieved both of those standards, but the entire province still lags a bit behind on double doses at 18 per cent.

Step 2 allows for the reopening of personal care services like salons and hairdressers, indoor gatherings up to five people and outdoor gatherings of 25. It would also open the door to the resumption of live outdoor performances and sports leagues.

“Everyone’s pushing them, when it comes to the hair dressers,” says Ford, who wouldn’t commit to a date. “Folks, hang in there. We’re going to get there as soon as possible.”

 

It’s a wait at least one area salon wasn’t willing to endure.

“There’s only so much time you can go without earning any revenue, so we haven’t closed at all during this third lockdown,” says Sylvia Gounakis, the owner of Dry Parlour Inc. in Tecumseh.

She says she’s following health and safety protocols, including physical distancing and sanitizer — but couldn’t afford another lockdown.

“I’m more worried about the health of my business, to be quite honest,” Gounakis says.

She admits the business has faced repercussions for that decision, including multiple visits from bylaw officers. Gounakis tells CTV News she’s received tickets and has a summons to appear in court in July.

But the customers keep coming, which to her is a vote of confidence in what she’s doing.

Gounakis says personal care service providers feel bullied by the lockdown cycles and believes the province should listen to its medical experts.

“Just please, let us earn a living. Open us now. We have to,” she says.

“Everything is going to fall to pieces.”