Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he has asked the province's chief medical officer of health to approve an earlier reopening plan, which would allow restaurant patios and non-essential retailers to reopen before June 14.
With COVID-19 case numbers declining and vaccination numbers on the rise, businesses and lobby groups have been urging the province to move up the timeline for Ontario's reopening plan and allow businesses to immediately reopen. The Ford government has said the province will enter the first stage of its reopening plan during the week of June 14.
Ford said at a press conference Wednesday that he is "hopeful" the province can enter the first stage of reopening sooner than June 14, but will not make a decision until the province receives advice from Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams.
"We've put it forward to Dr. Williams. We're waiting for a response from Dr. Williams, and we'll listen to Dr. Williams moving forward," Ford said.
"Everyone wants to open up earlier. Again, I'm going to rely on Dr. Williams to give us a green light, and the health table, before we do that."
If Dr. Williams does approve an earlier reopening, it is unclear exactly when that would happen. Ford did not provide any details in terms of a timeline for an earlier reopening.
The hint of a moved-up reopening came as Ford announced that Ontario students would not be returning to in-person classes for the last few weeks of the school year.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) was one of the groups calling on the government to immediately allow businesses to reopen. In an open letter published Tuesday, the CFIB urged Ontario to immediately reopen all non-essential retailers at a minimum 20 per cent capacity; restaurant patios and limited indoor dining; hair salons and barbers by appointment as well as gyms and recreational activities by appointment.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.