COVID-19 News: Phased reopening planned as Simcoe Muskoka COVID-19 cases tend to decline

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BARRIE, ONT. – The number of COVID-19 cases is moving in a better direction in Simcoe Muskoka as the province announces it will reopen in the coming weeks with a three-step roadmap.

In a live press conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced that the province would take a gradual approach to reopening because “we are seeing increasingly positive trends.”

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said science advisers are “encouraged and optimistic, but at the same time, we are cautious” during a briefing on the new projections of COVID-19.

The province reported 2,400 new infections and 27 virus-related deaths on Thursday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said some outdoor amenities, such as golf courses and tennis courts, will reopen this Saturday.

“The road map represents a way out of the pandemic,” she said. “With this roadmap, it is clear that there are better days to come.”

COVID-19 science advisers added that maintaining certain restrictions and continuing vaccines would ensure a “good summer.”

The premier said that during the summer months, as more people are vaccinated, restrictions will slowly ease, but noted the province will proceed with “extreme caution.”

The province will implement step 1 after 60% of adults receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, 58.5 percent have had their first stroke, officials said.

It is estimated that by mid-June, non-essential retail businesses would be allowed to open with a 15% limit. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, outdoor dining for up to four people per table, day camps, camping, swimming pools and water games will be open, among others.

Stage 2 which could begin in July will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, essential retail businesses will increase from 25% to 50% of capacity and non-essential retail capacity will increase to 25%. In addition, personal care services and several outdoor activities will be authorized.

Ford said the third stage, which is slated to begin in August, will see the return of indoor gatherings, casino and bingo halls, and indoor events.

In Simcoe Muskoka, the daily moving average of infections fell from more than 100 cases in early April to less than 50 cases, excluding the most recent days due to reporting delays.

Earlier this week, Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said a plan to reopen should be carefully managed to avoid dire consequences as the long weekend and summer approach. . “We will end up with a fourth wave that will stretch throughout the summer if we are not careful,” he said.

Simcoe Muskoka reported 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, plus one death linked to the virus.

With files from The Canadian Press


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