With the provincial stay-at-home order extended until June 2, Niagara's top doctor suspects things won't start to fully reopen till July.
While he “very much” agrees with the two-week extension, “I am suspicious that we'll probably need to have one more extension on the stay-at-home order beyond that,” Dr. Mustafa Hirji told a news conference Monday.
He pointed to the phrasing of a quote from Premier Doug Ford in the province's entension announcment, which he's interpreting to mean people will really be able to get back out in July and August.
“If we stay the course for the next two weeks, and continue vaccinating record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves,” Ford said in the May 13 release.
Hirji thinks that's a good indicator an extension is possible — something he's been saying for weeks.
“And I think that's perhaps the premier with the language hedging bets that this might not be the last extension to this lockdown and might need to go on a little bit longer,” Hirji said.
For week he has said he doesn't think COVID-19 cases will be low enough to open in June and that opening too soon poses a risk of getting put back into lockdown again soon afterward — a pattern seen around the world and also in Niagara when Ford lifted the second lockdown against public health advice.
“I do think probably mid-June is a more realistic timeline for when we're going to be able to safely lift the stay-at-home order and start to reopen,” Hirji said.
“I think June 2 will likely turn out to be a bit early. We'll see how cases and hospitalization trend.”