It would be a quick and easy win for the Ford government – and they need one. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette
Ontario announced the terms and conditions of its cautious three-stage post-pandemic reopening plan on May 20. Progress on vaccinations has been swift and the government – if it’s smart – will skip directly to Stage 3 as quickly as possible.
Which, as it turns out, is very quickly.
Ontario’s vaccination program is finally going gangbusters and some loosening of the draconian lockdown restrictions has been granted. But, it’s not enough for freedom-loving Ontarians.
It’s not enough for anyone employed in restaurants, bars, other hospitality sector businesses, or retail who remain locked out of their jobs, their livelihood, their incomes.
Most importantly – for a government one year away from election day – it’s not enough to revive its flagging popularity with voters sick and tired of being under a house arrest growing numbers of them feel is unfair and unnecessary.
Ontario could easily throw off all the shackles and reopen everything right now. But, that’s not going to happen for a number of purely political reasons.
There is, however, a very quick, very easy and very doable win within reach of the Doug Ford government right now: Skip ahead in its latest three-stage reopening plan. It doesn’t even violate any of its own unscientific rules.
Ontario is kicking butt on vaccination rates
Ontario’s current plan hinges on vaccination rates. The more people vaccinated, the more “normal” we can have. We’re currently in Stage 1 – which required 60% of adults in Ontario to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. We entered this stage June 11.
Moving to Stage 2 – which provides more freedom – requires 70% of adults to have one dose and 20% of adults to be fully vaccinated (i.e. two doses of most vaccines, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine – none of which are being offered in Ontario at this point.)
Getting to Stage 3 of Ontario’s “Roadmap to Reopening” requires 70–80% of adults to have one dose and 25% of adults to be fully vaccinated.
Ontario has already vaccinated 75% of adults with one dose – putting it well into the Stage 3 zone. As of this writing, over 18% of adults are fully vaccinated and more are joining that number every day.
Yesterday alone, the province vaccinated 202,984 people. Of those, 160,964 were second doses. At the current rate of vaccination, we will blow through the 20% fully vaccinated (Stage 2) threshold this week – and pass the 25% threshold (Stage 3) sometime next week.
But wait – don’t we have to wait a minimum 21-days between stages?
The province’s not-very-scientific-advisory panel and its Public Health braintrust insisted there be a “minimum” 21-day waiting period between stages. Their rationale for this was to allow enough time to detect a disastrous increase in case counts owing to a loosening of restrictions before reopening further might compound the problem.
That may well be bollocks, given the rapid growth in the size of our vaccinated population, but let’s not fight the problem. OK. We’ll wait the 21-days between Stages. But, we don’t need all the stages.
Ontario entered Stage 1 of the reopening plan on Friday, June 11. Add 21 days to that and we have July 2.
There is no doubt Ontario will be well beyond the threshold requirements for Stage 3 before Canada Day.
Therefore, there is no need to ever enter Stage 2.
Ontario should simply skip ahead to Stage 3 on July 2.
But, hold on… that’s still not back to normal!
You’re right. Ontario’s 3-Stage Roadmap to Reopening doesn’t actually include a fully reopen stage. Presumably, that comes some time after Stage 3.
A smart government would skip Stage 3 as well – and simply reopen everything, fully, completely on July 2. Get Ontario back to normal.
Of course, the “scientists” and TV doctors screaming for an “abundance of caution” won’t like that. But, at worst, Ontario residents should insist on full and complete end to all states of emergency and pandemic restrictions of every kind by July 23 – 21 days after July 2.
It’s an easy, quick political win for Doug Ford and the Ontario government. Under-promise, over-deliver.
Make Ontario Open for Business again, Premier. Do it For the People.
This article originally appeared on Mark Towhey’s Substack ‘Issues and Insights’. Reprinted here with permission from the author. To check out the original, head over to Mark’s newsletter here.