As Canada closes in on its targets to easing of restrictions in place since March last year due to the Covid-19, fully vaccinated individuals will be able to enjoy themselves in small groups outdoors and indoors without needing a mask or having to maintain social distancing.
And, they’ll be able to share a hug, have dinner together or even play sports outdoors without those requirements.
These were among the updates released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) during a technical briefing that looked forward to a freer summer. But, the obstacle in getting there could be the Delta variant, which has health authorities calling for even higher vaccination targets to prevent a potential fourth wave of the pandemic later this year.
“Our bottomline is that we just need to get as high as possible, as much as we can past that 75% goalpost for both first and second doses. We do know second dose is quite important in terms of strengthening your protection against that type of variant,” chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam said during the briefing.
PHAC’s targets for loosening restrictions were 75% of the population partially and 25% fully vaccinated. That appears to be imminent, as nearly 66% of Canadians have had at least one jab, including just over 19% with both doses.
Earlier, in a statement, she warned Canadians to remain “vigilant” despite increase in vaccinations and get fully covered. “The second immune-boosting dose substantially lowers our personal risk of infection and serious harms, provides stronger protection against certain variants of concern, including the Delta variant, and may make immunity last longer,” she said.
The new guidance released on Friday came in the form of an infographic. It noted that fully vaccinated persons could participate in small gatherings outdoors or indoors with others who are double-jabbed, without needing a mask or having to socially distance. They can even take part in outdoor activities like sports with those partially vaccinated or not at all, without those restrictions. However, it advised, “If you are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes, masking and physical distancing provide additional layers of protection that further reduce your risk in all settings. Your risk is always lower when outside.”
PHAC said this advice was “based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease”.