'Proceed with caution': WECHU on Ontario entering step 1 of reopening plan Friday
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The province will enter Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11.
“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario.
The opening is scheduled a few days earlier than initially announced with an original opening date of Monday, June 14.
Step 1 includes the return of outdoor patios, non-essential retail with capacity limits in place, an increase to outdoor gatherings allowing up to 10 people and other outdoor activities.
The owner of Dead Parrott Records, Paul Russell, is ready to open the doors on Friday.
“Opening next Monday would have been great, but opening on Friday is even better,” Russell says. “I always get people who tend to come in on a Saturday who you don’t see during the week, so maybe some of those will show up too?”
Turbo Espresso Bar Owner Renaldo Augustino also welcomes the advanced opening.
“Certainly not soon enough, but we’ll take it! We’re so used to being confused by everything that it’s just take what you can get and we’re obviously really excited to be reopening this Friday,” he says.
In order to safely enter Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 60 per cent of adults with at least one dose for two weeks or longer, ensuring the first dose offers a strong level of protection against COVID-19.
As of June 6, 2021 at 8:00 p.m., 72 per cent of the 18+ population in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with over 10 million doses now having been administered.
“The pandemic isn’t over,” says Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed.
He warns the region needs to proceed with caution.
“We are still getting 15 to 20 cases per day. There is an ongoing risk,” he adds. “Yes, with the high vaccination rate, the risk is going lower and lower but it takes time to get immunity."
Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rakesh Naidu says he’s hopeful the provincial government will also expedite entry into Step 2 and 3 based on an improving vaccination rate across Ontario.
“We are hoping that the second dose for adults, that increases or exceeds more than 20 per cent,” he says.
Naidu says the chamber is pleased the reopening plan is happening sooner than originally expected. “Every day matters. If you can reopen one day earlier, it will probably save some companies from going under.”
Naidu adds that community support must continue to those businesses not allowed to advance into Step One.
“They’re actually taking one for the team, they’re taking one for the community. I do hope that we remember that,” he says. “I hope the community remembers to support these businesses that will only be opening in stage 2 and 3.”
Places like Elysian Beauty Bar on Ottawa Street. Co-owner Maria Mouammar says it feels like standing on a fence not knowing when exactly to expect a return to work.
Mouammar says it’s like living in a state of perpetual state of frustration.
“Anything is better than something I just kind of feel like we’re at the mercy of the government and not able to just live as citizens of Canada.”
Mouammar tells CTV News the latest round of restrictions has taken its toll, saying it’s frustrating to have to wait to enter Step 2.
“It could change next week It could change next month, they could come July 2nd and say we can’t reopen and it’s going to get extended, so it’s really frustrating because we employ a team of 10 people.”
Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen includes but is not limited to:
- Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
- Outdoor religious services including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
- Indoor religious services including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
- Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
- Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
- Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people
- Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
- Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers
- Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators; and
- Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions.
The province will remain in Step One for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators.
If at the end of the 21 days the province has vaccinated 70 per cent of adults with one dose and 20 per cent of adults with two doses, the province will move to Step Two of the Roadmap.
“As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines,” Ford adds.