Ontario Premier Doug Ford is signalling an easing of COVID-19 restrictions as public health officials say infection and hospitalization cases are expected to peak by end of January.
“We’ll have some positive news. I believe we’re going to make some announcements later this week about going back to other levels of restrictions,” Ford said Tuesday in an interview with the Ottawa-based radio station CFRA.
Ford’s comment came days after Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr. Kieran Moore said he “couldn’t guarantee” the province will lift the COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 26 as previously scheduled.
While Ford did not provide specific details of the reopening plan during the interview, Moore also seems to have become more optimistic as growth in infection cases slowed.
“I’m starting to have much more hope,” Moore said on Jan. 17, during CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll.
On Jan. 3, Ontario returned to a modified “step two” of the Roadmap to Reopen plan, as Omicron-driven hospitalizations increased, temporarily closing down restaurants, bars, and other food and drinks establishments for 14 days starting Jan. 5.
Moore wouldn’t say if he was still signalling caution about reopening on Jan. 26 during a Wednesday press conference, but said the government’s plan will be phased, gradual, and based on data.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott echoed the chief medical officer’s optimism, saying that the province is starting to see “glimmers of hope” in the fight against the Omicron variant.
Elliott said COVID-19 infections cases are expected to peak this month, followed by a peak in hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. Hospitalizations will slow to doubling roughly every two weeks rather than doubling every seven days, as was the case just a few weeks ago, she said.
“Our goal has always been to ensure capacity is there to provide care for those who need it. Given current trends, we are increasingly confident in our ability to do so,” Elliott said, adding that people will still require care for COVID-19 in February.
“I want to assure Ontarians that we’re starting to see glimmers of hope,” she said. “The sacrifices you’re making now have meant we are beginning to see signs of stabilization.”
The Canadian Press contributed to this article.