Canada’s reopening causing confusion as pace varies among provinces

Jul 6, 2021 | COVID-19, News

Each province has set its own pace in reopening their economies based on restrictions and protocols set by its health ministries.

The Public Health Agency of Canada report that more tha 66.9 per cent of people have been vaccinated across the country. By province, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest vaccination rate at 72.8 per cent, with Ontario at 66.9 per cent and Saskatchewan at 60.2 per cent. Saskatchewan is currently the province with the lowest percentage of people vaccinated.

This is an image of the Ontario logo.

Ontario is currently in Step 2 of reopening and continuing to vaccinate people. There is a current focus on ages 12 and under who should receive the recommended dose of
Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo credit: Courtesy

Ontario began the Step 2 reopening plan on June 30 which allows for expanding outdoor activities, limiting indoor services like retail with limited capacity, and continuing face mask coverings.

Christian Hasse, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health, said people need to continue following health measures to avoid COVID-19 and allow for the province to enter stage three in reopening.

“The decision to have stage two open took place as a result of a positive step one over 76 per cent of Ontario’s population aged 18 and older received their first dose and 20 per cent received their second. ICU numbers have also declined,” Hasse said.

Stage 2 will remain in effect for 21 days to allow for evaluation of vaccination effectiveness and impacts of moving to the next step, he said.

The reopening roadmap has a list of public health and workplace safety measures that must be followed, Hasse said.

Some activities, such as non-essential retail and personal care services like hair and beauty salons, are to be open at 25 per cent capacity, he said.

Saskatchewan is also adhering to health protocols to control the spread of COVID-19 and is also at Stage 2 reopening. But the restrictions are less constraining.

This is an image of a Saskatchewan flag

Saskatchewan, like Ontario, is also in Step 2 of reopening and set to going to Step 3 as early as July 11. Many capacity restrictions have been lifted during its second step and will continue to do so for the third. There is the hope that the path of success will continue with increased vaccination rates. Photo credit: Courtesy

Jennifer Graham, spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, said Stage 2 began on June 20 after 70 per cent of people aged 30 and older received their first dose.

The province waited about three weeks to move into the second phase as “immunity takes time to build up after vaccination,” Graham said in an email interview.

The reopening map includes no capacity limits on retailers, personal care services, restaurants and licensed establishments, she said.

As more restrictions continue to lift it is important people proceed with caution when planning events, Graham said. She said if transmission increases and vaccinations rates level off could delay further reopening.

There is a growing concern with the transmission speeds of the Delta variant and the newest Lambda, which was first detected last summer in Peru, Graham said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) explained in a weekly epidemiological update on June 15 that shows the prevalence of Lambda and has been detected in 30 countries.