This past month marked the first step of our Reopening Ontario plan and the return of retail shopping and outdoor patios. Our health and infectious disease experts are analyzing our progress, and the statistics look promising, especially locally. Our riding’s caseload has consistently been in the single digits, numbers not seen since last summer. We are now able to graduate two days ahead of schedule to Step 2 on Wednesday, June 30. This will allow welcome improvements: increasing outdoor gatherings to 25 from 10, allowing indoor groups of up to five people with restrictions, and resuming sports, leagues, overnight camps, meetings, and events with capacity limits. For businesses: non-essential retail capacity rises to 25 percent, while essential retail jumps to 50 percent; outdoor dining increases to six per table, and personal care services reopen with masking. Other improvements include the resumption of indoor religious gatherings at 25 percent capacity. Please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario for complete details. While these are promising developments, the potential outbreak of the very contagious Delta variant remains a serious concern. If our vaccine program can maintain its rapid pace, and we continue our proven safety measures, we should enter Step Three in the third week of July.
Thanks to increased shipments of vaccines, and our local health units’ ability to get shots in arms, we have made substantial headway towards achieving a two-dose summer. Most Ontarians over the age of 70 have received their second dose, and anyone over 18 became eligible to book theirs this week. Students 12 years old and older also began receiving vaccinations this month, setting up their second dose before returning to school in the fall. We have 16 pharmacies providing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in our region, with more programmed as vaccine deliveries increase. The second dose interval of AstraZeneca has also been reduced to eight weeks from the previous manufacturer’s 12-week recommendation. At the start of June, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit had administered nearly 111,000 doses and now expect to surpass 180,000 by month’s end, quite the accomplishment by Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’ dedicated team. Book your appointment at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance. The EOHU is adding additional clinics as supplies arrive, allowing you to reduce your interval for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to a minimum of 28 days. Check the above website, and if you book an earlier date, your previous appointment is automatically cancelled.
As we allow for more social gatherings and events, I know some organizations and groups require assistance. The Ontario government has opened up the 2020-21 Seniors Community Grant Program for applications. This grant will assist not-for-profit community groups in developing projects to encourage greater social inclusion, volunteerism, and community engagement for seniors. Applicants can apply through Transfer Payment Ontario (formerly Grants Ontario) online at Ontario.ca/GetFunding. The deadline for all applications is July 15, 2021, at 5 p.m.
Remember to follow our public health guidelines and keep our community healthy.
Happy Canada Day!
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry