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COVID-19: Doug Ford extends Ontario’s stay-at-home order until June 2

Click to play video: 'Ontario premier Ford announces extension of stay-at-home order to June 2' Ontario premier Ford announces extension of stay-at-home order to June 2
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that while COVID-19 measures were working, they needed to extend the stay-at-home order for two additional weeks until at least June 2 instead of the original expiration date of May 20 – May 13, 2021

Premier Doug Ford has officially extended Ontario’s stay-at-home order another two weeks to June 2 as the province tries to control the spread of COVID-19.

Ford made the announcement on Thursday. The order was set to expire on May 20 ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.

“That is why I expect that by June 2, as long as we stay the course, we will be able to reopen outdoor recreation by then and we will provide more details of our plan to carefully and safely reopen the province,” Ford said.

The stay-at-home order was first implemented on April 8 to last six weeks in an effort to curb surging cases and hospitalization rates in the province.

The government had already taken steps towards maintaining restrictions — last week it extended the state of emergency to June 2, paving the way for the premier to prolong the stay-at-home order under that declaration.

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Read more: COVID-19: Ontario government looking to extend provincewide stay-at-home order into June

On Thursday, Ontario reported 2,759 new cases as the provincial total pushed past 500,000 cases. However, active cases, the seven-day average and patients in ICUs have steadily declined over the last couple weeks after a devastating third wave that saw record numbers in April.

Earlier this week on Monday, Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a press conference he’d like for cases to be under at least 1,000 a day to see an easing of restrictions.

At Thursday’s press conference, Williams said that although the daily case counts Ontario is at now are much lower than in April, they are still similar to what was seen just below the peak in the second wave.

“Everybody thinks that’s great from where we came from, and that’s true, but we still have a ways to get back down because we didn’t get all the way out of the second before we went into the third wave,” Williams said. “We do not want to repeat that again.”

Williams said Ontario will move towards reopening in a “steady and slow motion” based on multiple metrics.

Read more: COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine available to Ontarians aged 12 to 17 beginning May 31

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“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.

Ontario has been administering more than 100,000 vaccinations daily over the last several weeks. So far, more than 6.6 million doses have been administered. However, only 407,600 people are fully vaccinated with two shots due to the longer dosage interval.

“If we get the supply, we will work our backs off to have a two-dose summer, instead of a one-dose summer,” Ford said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the announcement helps to provide businesses “clear expectations for the next few weeks, including the Victoria Day long weekend.”

“This is something that people, myself and the other GTHA Mayors and Chairs, had been asking for and so I thank the Premier for providing that predictability,” Tory said in a statement on Thursday.

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“I hope over the coming weeks we have a clear and simple reopening plan from the province so every resident and every business across our city can plan, as much as possible, for June, July and August.”

Ford also announced that children aged 12 to 17 years old will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine beginning May 31.  There will also be special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21.

— With files from Jessica Patton.

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