Today, the Ontario government announced that seven more regions will enter Stage 2 of the government’s reopening framework on Friday June 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The decision was made in consultation with the Chief medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. These regions will see patios, personal care facilities, recreational facilities and other services permitted to open with strict physical distancing in place. The provincial Framework for Reopening Our Province: Stage 2 outlines the details.
This continues the regional approach to opening the province, which allows regions to reopen their economy as quickly as possible in a responsible manner that protects health and safety, with a view toward active COVID-19 case numbers. With the addition of these regions, more people can get back to work and more businesses and services can open. Ontario continues to move cautiously in restarting the economy.
Regions Entering Stage 2 Reopening:
The regions under the following public health units are permitted to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 19 at 12:01 a.m.:
These regions saw positive public health trends over the last week at the local level, allowing them to move to Stage 2. These regions join the 24 public health regions that entered Stage 2 on Friday June 12.
Regions Remaining in Stage 1:
The regions under the following public health units will remain in Stage 1:
These regions also saw steady progress over the last week, however, did not demonstrate readiness to enter Stage 2. They will be re-assessed next week.
Premier Ford is hopeful that all regions of Ontario will enter Stage 2 very soon.
The government, Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts continue to urge everyone to exercise caution and follow public health advice, especially physical distancing with anyone outside of your social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge and washing hands frequently.
What It Means
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Ontario this past winter, the Ontario government has had the dual mandate of protecting the province’s people, while not completely gutting the economy, which had been put to sleep in mid-March. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy economy while enforcing strict guidelines about social distancing put those two objectives largely at odds.
The Ontario government, much like the federal government, has had to deal with the pandemic with significantly increased expenditures and greatly reduced revenues. This has led to unprecedented deficits at both levels; governments need us to get back to work, shopping and consuming goods and services (and paying the HST) as soon as possible. Governments also feel the political pressure of residents who want to return to work and their (mostly) normal lives and shouldn’t have to remain in pandemic lockdown conditions when their part of the province has relatively few active cases.
Finally, recall that the Ford government was elected largely on a pro-economy, anti red tape platform. When the Premier repeats at his daily news briefings that no one wants the economy to get going more than he does, believe him. He has seen his government’s fiscal numbers and they’re not good. To his credit, he is not going about this recklessly, as are some other jurisdictions, taking a more measured and considered approach. Yes, more of the province is reopening but it’s very much one step at a time. It is also safe to say that if COVID numbers start to spike again, Premier Ford will shut it down again. Deficits are much easier for governments to deal with than deaths. And Doug Ford knows it.