Trudeau says pandemic restrictions shouldn’t be eased until case counts are ‘way down’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged provinces today to maintain strict public health measures until COVID-19 case counts are much lower than they are now — so that Canadians can enjoy a “one-dose summer.”

Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 briefing, Trudeau said that with the steady supply of vaccines now streaming into the country, there will be enough shots to immunize every eligible Canadian with at least one dose by the end of June.

But vaccinations alone will not crush the third wave stretching the country’s health care system to its limits, he added.

Trudeau said tough public health restrictions, like the lockdowns in Ontario, should be kept in place for the foreseeable future to drive COVID-19 case counts to more manageable levels.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said Monday the number of new cases reported daily in the province needs to be well below 1,000 before he can recommend lifting restrictions. Ontario reported 2,073 new infections today.

‘We can have a better summer’

Continued restrictions throughout May and early June, combined with a strong vaccine uptake, will allow Canadians to enjoy something like a normal summer, Trudeau said.

“We all know, in some places, cases are really high. We can’t ease public health restrictions until cases are way down. We all want to have a summer where we can see our loved ones and invite our friends over for BBQs,” Trudeau said.

“We can have a better summer, a one-dose summer.”

Pointing to modelling data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Trudeau said provinces should begin to lift public health restrictions only once 75 per cent of the adult population has had at least one vaccine dose.

Some provinces are on track to do that before Canada Day — but reaching that goal will require most Canadians to roll up their sleeves for a jab when their turn comes.

“We need to crush COVID right across the country,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said easing lockdowns and other restrictive measures too soon would only lead to another wave of COVID-19 cases that would disrupt the country’s progress on vaccinations. According to federal data, 40 per cent of the adult population has had one shot already.

Trudeau said that a one-dose summer would be followed a “two-dose fall,” when many more Canadians will have access to a second booster COVID-19 shot.

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