Canadians can look forward to small, outdoor summer gatherings if vaccine targets are met: officials

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued preliminary guidelines detailing what Canadians can expect to do this summer and fall with fewer pandemic restrictions, all dependent on whether the country can meet its vaccine targets.

If 75 per cent of Canadians eligible for vaccines have had one dose and 20 per cent have had a second dose, summer can include camping, hiking, picnics, and patios, but crowds should still be avoided, PHAC says.

By fall, if 75 per cent of those eligible for a vaccine have been fully vaccinated, expect to be able to gather indoors with people outside your household, participate in indoor sports, and attend family gatherings.

Health officials said Friday the lifting of public health restrictions more generally is, of course, dependent on the situation in specific communities.

As for right now, they say Canadians must stay the course.

“For now, you need to keep following public health advice, whether or not you’ve been vaccinated, to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. More people need to be vaccinated before we can ease restrictions,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Dubbed a “roadmap” to reopening, the document also includes indicators to help guide local public health responses, so to not only consider vaccination rates.

Indicators include ensuring COVID-19 transmission is controlled “to a manageable level” and there is sufficient public health capacity to test, trace, and isolate a “high proportion of cases and contacts,” and sufficient health-care capacity.

“You have to actually let the epidemiology and the data drive these slow reopening measures at the local level, so it’s about these indicators on top of these targets of vaccine coverage,” said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

This comes as Prime Minster Justin Trudeau declared this week Canadians should prepare for a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall,” though he provided little detail about what that would looked like.

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