Stay-at-home order extended in Simcoe Muskoka and rest of province
BARRIE, ONT. -- The Ford government extended the stay-at-home order another two weeks on Thursday, despite a 20 per cent downward trend in weekly COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka.
In his first news conference in almost two weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the current lockdown restrictions would be extended until at least June 2 to control the spread of COVID-19 and "save the summer."
"The situation is slowly trending in a better direction, but make no mistake, we aren't out of the woods yet," Ford said. "We must keep doing what we're doing and what's working."
Ford went on to add that COVID-19 variants continue to be a "major concern."
"We need to keep driving cases down and ease pressure on our hospitals," the premier said.
This is the second time the province has extended the stay-at-home order that was initially issued on April 8. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said that while the province's daily COVID-19 case counts are "coming down," but that Ontario has a "ways to go yet."
Ontario reported 2,759 infections Thursday. Dr. Williams has said daily case counts would need to be below 1,000 before the province would ease restrictions.
Earlier this week, Simcoe Muskoka's medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, said he would support a further extension on the safety restrictions, noting positivity rates would need to be "significantly lower" to avoid a fourth wave. He added the steps to reopen the province would have to be "very cautious."
Ford said schools would remain closed, adding it would allow time for educational staff and some students to receive their vaccinations.
Starting Thursday, all adults 40+ became eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine through the region's vaccination clinics.
The province also said it is developing a plan to vaccinate 12 to 17-year-olds starting in June.
So far, in Simcoe Muskoka, anyone turning 18 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine the week of May 24. There is no eligibility date for children 12+ at this time.
Full details on Simcoe Muskoka's vaccination program is available here.