Ford government takes long road to reopening

CFIB says delaying reopening could mean business on the edge don’t survive

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The Doug Ford government has stuck to its slow motion reopening plan for the province as vaccination targets are surpassed.

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Even after Ontario moves to Step Three — the final stage in the government’s Roadmap to Reopen — much remains restricted or even closed off.

When asked Friday about what will still be disallowed in Step Three, the government had little response.

“Information, including regulations, on the status of businesses in Step Three and beyond will be shared in advance of the province moving into that step of the Roadmap,” a spokesperson said.

The government provided no answer to what lies beyond the Roadmap, whether it’s wide-open Ontario, or another phased-in plan.

Public health officials point to the uncertainty around the impact of the delta variant for the caution, although critics say that doesn’t explain why so much of the roadmap remains blank.

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The current plan calls for the province to enter Step Three around July 20, even though the vaccination targets of 70-80% of the adult population with a single dose and 25% fully vaccinated have been met.

In fact, the percentage of adults with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination blew past 40% last week.

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“So what are we waiting for,” asked Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for the Ontario Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

A three-week delay in reopening could mean a business on the edge never reopens, she said.

The CFIB estimates that gyms have been closed for almost 400 days in total since the beginning of the pandemic, and there are restaurants that couldn’t reopen in Step Two because they couldn’t offer outdoor dining.

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A survey of CFIB members found Ontario to be the slowest to reopen in Canada with only 60% of businesses currently fully open, she said.

If the vaccination targets set for reopening were wrong, then the government should inform the public and businesses and provide the new thresholds, Kwiecinski said.

Any decision to prolong the reopening should be accompanied by an extension of Ontario government supports to businesses at the same time, she said.

B.C. moved to step three of their reopening plan on Canada Day, including indoor events at 50% capacity, she said.

“And yet we don’t even know in Ontario what capacity limits will be allowed for the various businesses that will be allowed to open under Step Three,” she said. “There’s currently no timeline for reopening in Ontario without restrictions.”

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“Where is the end for Ontario?” Kwiecinski asked.

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STEP THREE

Vaccination Target: 70-80% of Ontario adults with at least one dose, 25% fully vaccinated with two doses.

Current target date for Step 3: July 20

ALLOWED UNDER STEP THREE

(with restrictions to be announced)

– Larger indoor and outdoor social gatherings and organized public events

– Indoor restaurant dining

– Essential and non-essential retail with limited capacity

– Larger indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including weddings and funerals with capacity limits

– Indoor meeting and event spaces

– Indoor sports and recreational facilities

– Indoor seated events

– Indoor attractions and cultural amenities

– Casino and bingo halls

– Indoor gyms

aartuso@postmedia.com

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