Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford says 'there’s better times ahead' as he looks forward to the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, being just five months away.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province’s Plan to Safely Reopen on October 22, with the goal of lifting all remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022.

The plan took effect on Monday, as social distancing requirements and capacity limits were lifted at a variety of settings – including restaurants, gyms, event spaces and personal care services.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford, who also serves as the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, says the last few months have been a tough test on our patience – but the wait has been worth it. Ontario moved into Step Three of its COVID-19 Reopening Roadmap on July 16.

“We’ve taken a more cautious approach than some of the other jurisdictions across the country and that’s tested people’s patience, but lifting capacity limits and reopening facilities… it was time. It’s time that we took the next step.”

As of October 25, the Ontario government reported 326 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. Overall, they say just under 88 per cent of eligible residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with just under 84 per cent being fully vaccinated.

“We probably tested some people’s patience,” noted Rickford. “But everyone’s playing by the rules. When that happens, you get Canada’s largest province with more than 40 per cent of its population with one of the lowest COVID-19 counts out there. We just have to stay the course. There’s better times ahead.”

Moving forward, Ontario’s plan states the government plans to lift capacity limits in higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required like night clubs and strip clubs by November 15, with plans to lift proof of vaccination requirements in lower-risk settings by January 17, in higher-risk settings by February 7, and to lift all health measures by March 28, 2022.