With the new, more contagious variants continuing to pose significant risks, our Government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending the Stay-at-Home Order and the public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake until at least June 2, 2021. The extension will allow our vaccination programs more time to provide the protection levels we need to slow the spread. Our Premier is also asking the Prime Minister to close the loopholes at our borders. Up to 88,000 people have bypassed the 3-day hotel requirement when re-entering the country. Experts are raising the possibility that our vaccines will not be as effective against the new variants of concern detected in some parts of the world. We have overcome many challenges over the past year and a bit, and we do not want to see it all undone by what scientists are calling a variant of high consequence.
The steady supply of vaccines from the Federal Government continues to allow us to broaden the vaccination rollout to more Ontarians. Locally, our health unit is forecasted to receive double the Pfizer doses next week. The following week’s supply will increase by another 20 percent and maintain this level throughout June. Dr. Paul’s team will have vaccinated over 80,000 residents by the weekend, and these new supplies will go a long way to inoculating our region and allowing for a more typical summer. We have not received the AstraZeneca vaccine supplies necessary for our current pharmacy program. The shortage, along with the recent blood-clot data, has caused Ontario to pause its use for first-dose vaccinations. The medical experts are evaluating other vaccines for use in our pharmacy program, as they typically have more stringent delivery and storage requirements. Those 40 and over are now eligible to book a vaccination, along with all workers who can not work from home and individuals with at-risk health conditions, such as dementia, diabetes, and sickle cell disease. Please visit www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance.
“Ontario’s vaccine rollout continues to pick up speed, and we are on track to administer the first dose to 65 percent of Ontario adults by the end of May,” Minister Elliott said this week. “We remain focused on protecting those most at risk, and I want to thank all of our frontline health care workers for their tireless work each day to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.” Recent data reveals the first dose offers considerable protection, as only .06 percent of these recipients have contracted COVID-19. Most contractions occurred within two weeks of receiving the vaccine.
This week Minister Lisa MacLeod announced the new Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant to help those in this sector who have been impacted significantly by the pandemic and failed to qualify for previous supports. The grant will provide one-time payments of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to qualifying tourism and travel businesses in Ontario. They have been hit hard by the pandemic, and over the past year, we have provided a series of programs to help them survive. While it is not possible to address the full impact of the pandemic, our Government is working to help the province achieve a prosperous future. Applicants can grant details and access under the “business” tab at www.Ontario.ca/COVID.
Remember to maintain personal spacing, wear a mask, and stay home, except to pick up essential items.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry