Ontario considers exiting Step 3 as early as next week, sources say
TORONTO -- Ontario is considering a further easing of pandemic restrictions and an announcement could come as soon as Friday as health officials say the COVID-19 situation is improving in the province, CTV News Toronto has learned.
Sources say Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet are expected to consider the new proposal this week.
The government is considering making the announcement this Friday, and implementing the plan as early as next Monday, the sources said.
Ontario has been in Step 3 of the "Roadmap to Reopen" since July. The province held off on exiting Step 3 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in August.
Exiting Step 3 of the roadmap will likely mean capacity limits are increased in many settings but details of what restrictions will be eased have not been confirmed.
Indoor masking requirements will remain in place, the sources said.
In an earlier statement to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said Ontario has one of the lowest rates of active COVID-19 cases in the country.
"We're now able to look at what public health measures we may be able to lift while maintaining our cautious approach," a ministry spokesperson said.
On Wednesday night CTV News Toronto contacted Ford's office but did not receive a response.
Ontario reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since August on Wednesday, with 306 new infections reported.
The province’s seven-day rolling average of daily infections continues to decline as a result, now standing at about 500, down from 565 the previous week.
On Saturday, Ontario lifted capacity restrictions for certain large venues, including those used for concerts, sports and movies.
The Toronto Maple Leafs held their home opener on Wednesday in front of a near full-capacity crowd.
Speaking with CP24 Wednesday evening, Toronto’s medical officer of health said the return of the Leafs offers a "much needed boost" for many in the city and that health restrictions should mean the venue remains safe.
She added that there are "active discussions" underway about whether capacity restrictions could be loosened in other areas.
The restaurant industry, which is still limited to a 50 per cent capacity limit, expressed its frustration this week with the provincial government because no plan was released to ease restrictions on their businesses.