Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke Tuesday about his government’s plan to remove the province’s proof of vaccination requirement in two weeks and said it’s time to “get on with our lives.”
Ford made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question at an unrelated announcement in Hamilton.
The premier was asked about concerns whether businesses that choose to continue requiring proof of vaccination beyond March 1 could face harassment, and whether those that go along with plans to lift it could lose business because people may feel unsafe. Ford was asked what he thinks businesses should do given those possibilities.
“I think the market’s going to dictate. You know, you can go to Costco, you can go to Walmart, you can go shopping — you don’t know if the person has a shot beside you or not,” Ford said in response.
“We also know that it doesn’t matter if you have one shot or 10 shots, you can catch COVID. See the prime minister; he has triple shots, and I know hundreds of people with three shots that caught COVID. We just have to be careful.”
COVID-19: Ford questioned on dilemma facing business owners once vaccine mandate becomes optional
The province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore has said that a booster dose can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission compared with two doses, but not eliminate it. The vaccines all provide strong protection against severe illness.
Ford added, “We can’t stay in this position forever.”
“We’ve got to learn to live with this and get on with our lives. I bet if I asked every single person in this room, ‘Do you want these damn masks or do you want them off?’ They want them off. They want to get back to normal. They want to be able to go for dinner with their families, ” he said.
Ford added that of those who aren’t vaccinated, some are “rebel-rousers” while others are “hard-working people that just don’t believe in it.”
“And that’s their choice. This is about, again, a democracy and freedoms and liberties. And I hate as a government telling anyone what to do,” he said.
“Everyone’s done with this. Like we are done with it. Let’s start moving on, and cautiously, and, you know, we’ve followed the rules — all of us, like 90 per cent of us — for over two years. The world’s done with it, so let’s just move forward.”
On Monday, the province announced that it was accelerating plans to lift restrictions, with more capacity limits set to be adjusted on Thursday as opposed to Feb. 21. And on March 1, all capacity restrictions will be lifted, along with the province’s proof of vaccination requirement.
The mask mandate will remain in place for now. A date for when that will be removed has not yet been set.
Officials, including Moore, have insisted that the decisions to lift restrictions are a result of scientific data and improving COVID-19 trends.
During his press conference Tuesday, the premier again condemned blockades resulting from the convoy protests against COVID-19 measures and called for them to end.
“I get it. Everyone’s frustrated,” Ford added.
“I’m just as frustrated as anyone else. We want to get through this. I want to get these mandates moving and we made some great announcements yesterday,” he said, referring to Monday’s announcements.
Ford said was never “sold on” the vaccine passports, but chose to implement them because health officials said it was necessary.
“But thank God on March the first, we’re moving forward out of this and man I just can’t wait.”
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