What will it take to open Ontario? Ontario's top doctor wants to see less than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases to lift restrictions

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TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 27: Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario, listens to press questions during a press briefing on the coronavirus at Queens Park on January 27, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. The Ontario health officials announced the confirmation of the first case of the novel coronavirus in Toronto, along with a presumptive second case of the virus in the city. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) (Cole Burston via Getty Images)

At a press conference on Monday, Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said he would like to see less than 1,000 daily reported COVID-19 cases to ease provincial restrictions.

"I think it has to be well below a thousand with the variants,...it’s a new issue," Dr. Williams explained.

"Their propensity to spread is much higher and so I think our target, in my mind, has to be lower than that thousand."

He added that discussions are happening with the public health table to determine an effective way to ease restrictions but if 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated, that goal is "achievable."

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, associate chief medical officer of health, specified that possible rules around contacts between people who have been vaccinated are regularly discussed with federal, territorial and provincial counterparts. She indicated that people should be fully vaccinated, at least seven days after their second dose of vaccine, before rules can change for them.

"We want people to be fully immunized before we really open the gates to people getting together," Dr. Yaffe said.

"We want to make sure that we are making a decision at the right time, when the transmission has reduced," Dr. Williams added.

Ontario's chief medical officer of health stressed that the goal is have in-person education in schools be one of the first operations to resume when restrictions are lifted, while discussions are also being had around outdoor activities, in particular.

Ontario reported 2,716 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 19 deaths, with a notably small number of tests completed in the past 24 hours, totalling 27,175.

"We do have our work ahead of us, but we’re doing well," Dr. Williams said.

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