Ontario health minister needs another week of data before Stage 3 planning

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Despite positive COVID19 trends in Ontario and active talks around Stage 3, the province's health minister says we need at least another week of data before discussions escalate to a potential plan for moving to the final stage of economic reopening. 

"It's looking very good, but we still need another week's data to really inform the situation and then decisions will be made about the opening of Stage 3," Christine Elliott said Tuesday.

Ontario reported 157 new cases on Tuesday, down from 257 the day before, attributed to heavy testing of migrant workers in the Windsor-Essex region, who areas of which remain in Stage 1. 

Only 12 of 34 public health units reported new cases, with five reporting five or fewer, with overall hospitalizations, ICU and ventilator use also down. 

While the wait is on for more data, Elliott says the provincial health table is certainly talking about the final phase, which will see remaining businesses reopen, as well as amenities like playgrounds. 

"Whether we do it across the province, whether we do it regionally, these are serious discussions that are happening," she said. "Where this should happen, of course when, everybody wants to know that and then what will be opening next." 

Premier Doug Ford echoed the need for more data, indicating he's been getting many calls from regions with very little COVID19 presence, joking that Santa Claus in northern Ontario is calling too. 

"I'm getting lobbied by Santa Claus right now," he said, referring to Santa's Village in Bracebridge. "Santa Claus is getting restless up there, but he knows the safety of his kids are the number one priority." 

As for masks, Ford confirmed any future possibility of a provincially mandated mask order - which he's said would be almost impossible to enforce - for indoor spaces was ruled out, as Toronto and Peel Region's moved to make them mandatory in their regions. 

"They have the authority to do it and I'll support them on any decision that they make and I have all the confidence in the 34 public health units," he said.

He also said the decision on masks for high schools will be left to individual boards, instead of a provincial order. 

SPORTS 

The topic of pro sports also came up during Ford's daily briefing (which was provincial parks being free tomorrow for Canada, as well as a two-week free period for fishing starting July 4.) 

After Ford said Monday he had spoken with Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro throughout the weekend about the team returning to play in Toronto, the minister in charge of the file said talks continued with her federal counterpart. 

"The complication with the Blue Jays is a bit more because that they're going to be traveling, it's not like the hub city model that we've executed on with MLSE," Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Minister Lisa MacLeod said. "That is the more complicating factor." 

The team is currently looking for a letter of approval from the federal government to bring players and staff to Toronto, as it's begun testing at its training facility in Dunedin, Florida, the state which is seeing massive COVID19 case increases. 

“The team will either board a charter flight to Toronto to begin training under a modified quarantine, isolated from the general public, or remain in Florida to conduct training,” the team said in a statement.

“The Blue Jays are hopeful to stage training camp and play regular-season home games in Toronto and will continue to work through this possibility."

All levels of government are reviewing the Jays proposal, as federal rules currently require any non-essential travellers to immediately quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. 

Ford said yesterday that in speaking with team president Mark Shapiro on the weekend, that the provincial medical officer of health needed some "tweaks" to the proposal, but that Shapiro seemed satisfied with how things were going.

Meanwhile MacLeod says they're also reviewing what the CFL could look like, confirming the league is considering the province for potential hub cities. 

"They have discussed possibly going to Hamilton or the Burlington area and I don't think any option is off the table," she said. 

OTHER TOPICS 

"I'd have to talk to talk to the Attorney-General about that, but that's pretty good," Ford said about the idea of allowing court verdicts to be streamed online after the pandemic, after thousands of people watched the verdict in the Dafonte Miller beating case on Friday. 

"Nothing drives me more nuts when government takes their time when people are in desperate need, but we'll make sure that we get that flowing," Ford said when asked about daycare operators reporting they still haven't gotten their promised funding for reopening, saying he would follow up with the Treasury Board.