On Wednesday, June 30, Ontario will move into Step 2 of its reopening plan, after entering the first step of the frame work on June 11.
"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 30 with the support of our public health experts" a statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford reads. "We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done."
According to the province's reopening plan, Ontario can move into Step 2 when 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 have received both doses.
It also outlines that Ontario can move into Step 3 when 70 to 80 per cent of adults have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 25 per cent are fully vaccinated.
As of June 23, over 29 per cent of adult Ontarians have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 76 per cent of adults have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The plan also outlines that the province must spend 21 days in each step of the framework, but the province has rolled that back to 19 days between Step 1 and Step 2.
Why is Waterloo not moving into Step 2?
In a news release on Thursday, the Region of Waterloo announced that it will not be following the rest of the province to move into Step 2, due to concerns around the Delta variant spreading in the community.
"To give our residents more time to be vaccinated, to avoid having to take a step back, and based on our situation at this time, I anticipate the Region of Waterloo will be able to move into Step 2 in mid-July," a statement from Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Waterloo's medical officer of health reads. "This approach gives us the best chance to hold onto the gains we have made."
Over 75 per cent of adult in Waterloo have at least one dose of the vaccine and over 21 per cent have received two doses. The region continues to urge everyone to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible
"I fully understand that pausing our move to Step 2 will greatly impact many in our community,” a statement from regional chair Karen Redman reads. "We are in one of the most critical phases of the pandemic locally and this decision is made with the health and safety of all of our community at heart."
What is allowed in Step 2 of Ontario's reopening plan?
Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people
Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 5 people
Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity
Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times, and at 25 per cent capacity and other restrictions
Outdoor dining with up to 6 people per table, with exceptions for larger households and other restrictions
Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
Outdoor fitness classes limited to the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of physical distance
Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions
Overnight camps for children operating in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals, permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions
What can you really do when you're fully vaccinated?
While Ontario continues to ease more COVID-19 restrictions and more vaccine doses are administered, Dr. David Williams, Ontario's outgoing chief medical officer of health, said the public can expect more guidance on what kind of interactions vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals can have moving forward in the next week or so, including indoor gatherings outside of ones household.
While the province has exceeded the vaccination threshold for moving into Step 3 of the reopening plan, Dr. Williams stressed that is just one aspect of the reopening metrics, in addition to case numbers and more recent concerns around the Delta variant.
"With that 75 per cent first doses,...one in four people are not vaccinated with one dose in the province of Ontario. That’s a significant number of people that...can cause outbreaks."Dr. Williams
"We’d rather be taking slow strides forward than trip going out the door, if you may... Let's experience Step 2, let's watch how the immunity keeps building up."
Dr. Kieran Moore, who will become Ontario’s new chief medical officer of health on June 26, identified that roughly 50 per cent of the COVID-19 strains identified in Ontario are the Delta variant, rapidly spreading in communities like Waterloo.
"I do believe a slow and cautious approach is warranted with Delta becoming a major strain in Ontario," he said. "We’re also learning at one dose of vaccine is somewhat protective against the Delta strain but two doses in highly protective."
"We’d love to see the percentage of our Ontarians with their second doses rising even higher."