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Ontario hits first benchmark to leave Step 3 but three more things still need to happen first

Ontario hits first benchmark to leave Step 3 but three more things still need to happen first
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TORONTO -- Ontario has hit the first benchmark to exit Step 3 and move toward a complete reopening, but there are already calls for a contingency plan to avoid a fourth lockdown in the fall.

According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, 80 per cent of the eligible population has now received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

That is one of the key targets Ontario must hit to exit Step 3 and "return to normal," Elliott said.

In order to move out of Step 3, the province must also have 75 per cent of the population with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, no public health unit can have less than 70 per cent of their eligible population vaccinated and other key indicators like hospital capacity and case counts must remain stable.

To date, Ontario officials report that nearly is fully vaccinated.

The earliest date Ontario can leave Step 3 is Aug. 6.

On Thursday, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) issued a letter urging the Ford government to "communicate its plan to lift all business capacity restrictions."

They want the government to develop a contingency plan that ensures small businesses will not have to close for a fourth time if COVID-19 cases rise in the fall.

"CFIB also urges the government to allow all public health units that have hit the 70 per cent fully vaccinated target to immediately remove all capacity restrictions as has already happened in several provinces," CFIB President Dan Kelly said.

According to Kelly, "an alarming 18 per cent" of Ontarios small businesses are actively considering bankruptcy.

Earlier this month, Ontario s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore in COVID-19 cases starting in September and the province is already preparing to respond to the potential surge.

Moore said he has seen modelling from Public Health Ontario and the provinces science table that suggests cases will increase when the cooler weather arrives.
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