Ontario ‘very close’ to allowing indoor dining and opening gyms: Ford

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Ontario is “very, very close” to moving to the third step in its reopening plan, but the public needs to be patient a little bit longer, Premier Doug Ford said Monday

“Folks, just bear with us for a very short period — it’s going to happen,” Ford said. “I think it’s going to come sooner than later — the numbers dropped again — and we need to get the economy moving.”

The province enters Step 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen plan Wednesday which includes the return of personal services such as hair salons and barbershops.

However, the premier said he’s waiting for the advice of public health officials before moving up the date for Step 3 which ushers in indoor gyms and restaurant dining.

“We’ve got to get those gyms open,” Ford said.

Ontario reported 210 new cases Monday — the lowest daily number since Sept. 13 when 204 cases were recorded.

The seven-day daily average of new cases was 278, another number not seen in Ontario for more than nine months and prior to the second wave of the pandemic.

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Hot spots Toronto and Peel reported just Toronto reported just 52 cases between them.

The province’s intensive care units were caring for 287 COVID-19-related patients, including nine individuals from Manitoba.

Three more deaths were recorded Monday for a pandemic total of 9,129 lives lost.

No additional COVID-19 deaths were reported Monday among the residents of long-term care (LTC) where officials first focused vaccination efforts.

There have now been over 14.2 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered in the province, including 180,369 on Sunday, and over 4.3 million Ontarians have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

In Toronto, one million residents have received two doses.

As of Monday morning, all adults in the province who received Pfizer or Moderna were eligible to book an accelerated second dose.

  1. Ontario Premier Doug Ford is seen behind a closing door in a back room at the Queen's Park Legislature in Toronto on Monday, June 14, 2021.

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  2. Helen Briggs, a pharmacist, holds up a tray of syringes as Lirie Palamind an RPN (background) loads up them up with Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Humber River Hospital clinic held at Downsview Arena on April 21, 2021.

    All Ontario adults eligible for faster second dose of COVID-19 vaccine today

Although Ontario is hitting all its vaccination targets earlier than initially anticipated, officials caution they remain concerned about the potential for a fourth wave of the pandemic fuelled by the Delta variant first identified in India.

Another 286 cases of Delta were identified Monday, although testing for variants of concern (VOC) takes longer than simply confirming COVID-19.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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