PICK A SIDE: Is Ontario’s reopening plan moving too slowly?

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Published June 4, 2021 at 5:43 pm

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After a slow start when it came to getting Ontarians vaccinated, largely due to the fact we had to import them from countries that are capable of producing them because we are not, Canada’s most populated province has now surpassed the U.S. when it comes to vaccination rates.

As of Friday (June 4), 59 per cent of all Ontarians and 68.5 per cent of Ontario adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while seven per cent of adults have been fully immunized.

The Province’s plan for ending the third, Ontario-wide lockdown is tied to vaccination rates, in order to ensure people continue to get vaccinated.

However, we are approaching the threshold for Step 2, and it’s conceivable we will get there before we even enter Step 1.

According to the framework, in order to move into Step 1, 60 per cent of adults in Ontario need to have at least one dose of a vaccine—we have already surpassed that with still 10 days before the planned date Step 1 would begin.

In fact, with 68.5 per cent of adults having received one dose, it’s conceivable we could reach the threshold for Step 2 before the province even enters Step 1.

In entering Step 1, essential retailers will have the same restrictions in place as they currently have, while non-essential retailers will be permitted to open for in-person shopping at 15 per cent capacity, restaurants will be permitted to open their patios for in-person dining for tables of up to four people, and fitness instructors will be permitted to hold classes outside for up to 10 people.

Additionally, after entering Step 1, Ontario will remain under these restrictions for at least three weeks and until the vaccination threshold for Step 2 is met—we’re pretty much at the target rate for single doses, but only about one-third of the way to the target for both.

Because of how many people have been vaccinated at this point, coupled with what other countries have been doing in terms of restrictions, many believe the Province’s plan is too slow.

Some believe, based on where we are with vaccination rates, it’s time for the Province to ease restrictions and begin reopening businesses and amenities.

Many people feel, because so many people, including the most vulnerable people, have been vaccinated, it should be safe to allow at least some businesses and activities—such as dining at restaurants (particularly patios), working out at gyms and fitness centres, and gatherings among other vaccinated friends and family members to be permitted.

Additionally, many believe the Province was too cautious when it came to choosing to keep students at home, rather than return to in-person learning for the remainder of June.

However, others believe the Province has made the right decision.

Those who support this method have suggested the Province has demonstrated a lack of caution and patience when it comes to reopening in the past, which is part of why this is the third Ontario-wide lockdown residents have had to endure.

Supporters have also indicated, with the emergence of new, more contagious and dangerous variants, it’s much safer to err on the side of caution, and reopen more slowly than risk another, fourth wave.

However, those who feel the process should be accelerated have suggested the past measures can’t be compared, because of the emergence of vaccines—some feel, now that so many people have been vaccinated, the risk of a fourth wave occurring as things reopen isn’t as high.

So, readers, what do you think?

Is the reopening framework too slow? Is it better to err on the side of caution and wait a little longer?

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