Ontarians lined up for their first haircuts in months on Wednesday as the province rolled back public health restrictions on salons and other businesses in light of a decline in COVID-19 cases.
The second step of the province’s economic reopening plan took effect early Wednesday morning, allowing hair salons to reopen to 25 per cent of capacity, with masking and other rules in place.
Small lines had formed outside some east Toronto salons by mid-morning, with excited residents eager to shed their pandemic hairstyles.
Salons have been shut down across the province since strict measures took effect in April to curb a deadly third wave in infections, but the wait for a fresh cut has been especially long in Toronto and Peel Region. The two virus hot spots have seen the facilities shut since last November.
Capacity limits are also expanding for Ontario retail stores as of Wednesday. Groups of 25 people outdoors and five indoors can gather together, and outdoor events, performances and fitness classes are permitted with restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed up for public appearances on Wednesday sporting a fresh haircut. He had also shaved his beard, which has been a mainstay of his look since January 2020, before the pandemic arrived in Canada.
The changes are taking effect a few days ahead of schedule due to strong vaccination rates and other positive public health indicators.
Ontario on Wednesday reported 14 additional deaths and 184 new cases of COVID-19.
Vaccination rates have moved past the target set for the next stage of reopening, which would see more indoor activities and larger gatherings allowed. But the province’s top doctor said this week that he’d prefer to take a cautious approach and would likely wait the scheduled 21 days before rolling back public health rules further, citing risks posed by the more transmissible Delta variant.
That COVID-19 strain delayed the reopening in Waterloo Region, which is staying in Step 1 of the province’s plan as it battles a surge in Delta cases.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6:50 p.m. ET, Canada had reported 1,415,284 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,087 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,295. More than 37.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Quebec on Wednesday, health officials reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a day before the province begins welcoming more travellers from Canada.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories on Wednesday. Health officials in Yukon have not reported figures for the day.
News source- CBC