Ontario Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod is ‘hopeful’ that if the current downward trend of Covid-19 cases continues, and the 3-step reopening plan set to begin in mid-June stays on track, then the 3 CFL teams in her province can kick off at the leagues desired start date. When asked about the CFL’s potential return to play in August, she replied
“I’m a lot more hopeful today than maybe I was a couple of days ago,”
Premier of Ontario Doug Ford’s 3-step plan to reopen the province would ideally begin around June 14th based on current health reports. In order for Ontario to enter step 1 of reopening, at least 60% of adults must have received 1 dose of the vaccine. To enter step 2 of the plan, at least 70% of adults must have received at least 1 dose, and 20% must be fully vaccinated. For the 3rd and final step, ideally, 80% of adults must have received at least one dose, with 25% being fully vaccinated.
Ontario will look to remain in each step of the reopening process for at least 21 days to evaluate how the plan’s effects alter health reports and, in turn, the whole timeline of reopening. According to health-infobase.canada.ca, as of May 15, 2021, 45.05% of Ontarians have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 2.92% of the province being fully vaccinated.
In regards to the prospect of football being played in Ontario this year, MacLeod was quoted saying
“Now that we have clear thresholds and criteria with respect to vaccinations, what ICU capacity looks like, what testing looks like, that gives us a better sense. Now that we’ve got clear guidance from the health table on what that would look like, I feel a lot better,”
If all goes without setbacks, it is expected that Ontario will enter step 3 of the reopening plan by August, just in time for the kick-off of the CFL’s shortened season. In regards to step 3, MacLeod added
“in step three you’ll start to see sports coming back, and what that looks like we’re going to work with health (officials) on because we recognize contact in football will be critical,”
The CFL has delayed and shortened its season for 2021 but still looks to play a 14-game regular season beginning on August 5th, with the Grey Cup being played for in Hamilton in December. It has been established many times over the past few months that the CFL needs a significant number of fans in stands to play at all, so the current CFL schedule may not be totally locked in, barring any setbacks to the reopening plan. MacLeod is aware that the timeline is not yet set in stone, stating
“August might be still too early for fans in stands, but that’s also something I’ve already engaged in with the chief medical officer of health on,”
Although there is much to still develop from now to August, MacLeod is adamant about getting to a point where the Grey cup can be hosted in Hamilton this year, stating
“I’m absolutely committed to trying to get us to a point where Hamilton is able to host the Grey Cup festival. That’s really important to me, so that work is being done.”
MacLeod had a meeting with Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, on Friday to present a plan to navigate the hosting of sporting events later in 2021.
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