The Ontario government says COVID-19 health indicators have improved enough to begin re-opening the economy on Friday. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and limited outdoor dining will be permitted and more retail businesses will be allowed to open for in-person sales with capacity restrictions. Premier Doug Ford says the first step in Ontario’s roadmap to recovery is beginning three days earlier than scheduled due to the sacrifices of residents and the ongoing vaccine rollout. Restrictions are expected to lift further after at least 21 days, based on vaccination rates and other health indicators.

CFIB Says Step 1 Doesn’t Go Far Or Fast Enough:

The head of a small business lobby group says news that Ontario is moving to a slightly earlier re-opening of its economy is long overdue. The province has announced that it is moving to stage one on Friday — three days earlier than scheduled. It will allow more retail businesses to open for in-person sales with limits on capacity. Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is asking for greater indoor capacity for more business types and says independent retailers in malls want permission to open. Kelly also says the province needs to move through the next stages of its COVID-19 re-opening plan faster than the scheduled three week intervals.

Indian Variant Expected to Become the Dominant Strand:

Top Ontario health officials say the Delta COVID-19 variant has been detected across the province and it will likely become the dominant strain, as has been the case earlier in the pandemic with more aggressive COVID-19 variants. However, they say vaccinations appear to have protected people infected with the variant from becoming severely ill, especially those who have received two doses. Associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe told reporters Monday that the province should be able to blunt the spread of the virus as long as residents get vaccinated, and use good infection prevention and control.

NDP Calling For Peel Region to Be Prioritized Again:

The NDP is calling on the province to revise its COVID-19 vaccination strategy to give people confidence that the re-opening of the economy set to begin on Friday won’t backfire. Deputy party leader Sara Singh says distribution of second doses of COVID-19 vaccines must be prioritized to hot spots where a more infectious variant is spreading to help avoid another lockdown. The Delta variant is poised to become dominant this month in Peel Region and experts fear it could spread across the province if it isn’t contained. Health Minister Christine Elliott told CP24 that the province is actively considering sending more vaccines to virus hot spots, with more details to come soon.

Trudeau Going Slow on the Border:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will take a phased approach to welcoming back international visitors as the pandemic eases. Trudeau says he expects high interest from overseas travellers who wish to come to Canada because of favourable vaccination uptake rates and case counts. The prime minister told the St. John’s Board of Trade, in a virtual appearance, that anyone coming to Canada needs to be fully vaccinated before arriving.

Trudeau Will Not Stay in a Designated Quarantine Hotel:

The Opposition Conservatives are accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entourage of getting special treatment because they are not staying at a designated quarantine hotel when he comes back from England. Instead Trudeau and his party will stay at a separate Ottawa hotel. Trudeau is travelling to the UK later this week to attend the G-7 leaders summit in Cornwall. The Public Health Agency of Canada says there might be security or other concerns behind the decision not to stay at an airport hotel for three days.

Moderna Applies For Use On 12-17 Year Olds:

Moderna has filed a request with the European Medicines Agency for its COVID-19 vaccine to be granted authorization for use in adolescents. Moderna says in a statement that it has filed data for a conditional marketing approval in the 27-nation EU bloc to expand its vaccine to children aged 12 to 17. If authorized, it would be the second COVID-19 vaccine for children to be cleared in the EU after Pfizer first won approval. Moderna has also filed for authorization to use its vaccine under emergency use regulations in the US and Canada.

Ontario Clinics Being Bought Out:

Well Health Technologies has announced a deal to buy a network of primary care, specialty care, telehealth services and diagnostic health services in Ontario. The Vancouver-based company say the acquisition of MyHealth Partners is worth up to $266.3-million dollars Well Health Technologies says the deal will make it the largest owner-operator of outpatient medical clinics in Canada. MyHealth was founded in 2013 and has 48 locations in Ontario.

Ontario Numbers:

There were 525 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 15 more deaths linked to the virus. That the lowest Ontario’s new daily cases have been since September 27, when it was 491. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were just 114 new cases in Toronto, 95 in Peel Region, and 51 in Waterloo. Ontario says nearly 117,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered for a total of more than 10.1 million doses to-date.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health announced 43 new cases yesterday. That’s up from 31 on Sunday. Hospitalizations also increased, by 6 to a total of 25 with 20 of those in intensive care. The number of active cases climbed by 11 to 343.

The weekend produced just 36 new cases in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. There are now 135 active cases, which is down by 2. COVID-19 hospitalizations are down to 13.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Ontario Government

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