Calls to speed up Ontario's reopening plans grows as COVID cases drop in Ottawa and across Ontario

There are growing calls, ahead of Friday's Step 1 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan, to speed up the pace of the plan.

As COVID case numbers plummet in Ontario, some experts say it’s time to re-evaluate the timelines.

At La Favorita on Preston Street, owner Nick Shallal is rushing to reopen his patio this weekend, but it won’t be easy with a busy first weekend looming.

"To arrange with the staff that’s been away for a while, it’s not that easy, but we’re going to make it I hope on Friday we’re going to be ready to go, full-scale patio," he said.

On Wednesday, Ottawa recorded another very low COVID case count and many neighbouring communities were down to zero, sparking a push for a faster reopening.

"I’m sinking. Every day that goes by that’s income I’m losing," said Sarah Cross, owner of Salon Bliss.

"Right now what’s happening in stage 1 is things that should be open anyway, and to be honest with you, looking at stage 2, that is what we should be looking at right now," said Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious diseases physician.

"And if we’re going to re-evaluate scientifically what’s happening on the ground, I do think this reopening plan should be significantly accelerated."

Hair Salons won’t reopen until July and limited CFL crowds outdoors won’t happen until August.

"It doesn’t make any sense. I have a lack of trust in our authorities telling us that we can’t reopen when scientists, doctors are saying there’s no reason for this," said Cross.

"The plan is definitely too slow when you look at what’s happening on the ground right now, we really should re-evaluate," said Dr. Chakrabarti.

Despite the low numbers, Ottawa’s top doctor said she supports a slower reopening.

"The numbers we see today represent activity that happened two weeks ago, and what happens Friday we won’t see the results until two weeks after that," said Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health.

The entire province is set to reopen Friday, 21 days later would be the earliest Ontario could move to Step 2 under the current plan. Step 3 would happen 21 days after Ontario enters Step 2, which would be late July.