Restrictions could be lifted by summer if 75 percent vaccination threshold reached, federal modelling suggests

Screengrab courtesy: CBC News

The newest modelling data from the Public Health Agency of Canada was released Friday and they paint an optimistic picture for the prospect of a CFL season.

While the federal government advocates for continued adherence to lockdown measures imposed by the provinces, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says restrictions could be lifted by the summer if the vaccination rollout progresses as planned.

“These models give us hope, illustrating that there is a safe way to lift most restrictive public health measures, like certain workplace and business closures, by this summer, if enough people get vaccinated,” Tam said.

Those decisions can be made once 75 percent of Canadians have been given their first immunizations, with the most stringent measures being lifted when 20 percent have received both doses.

The CFL announced the postponement of the 2021 campaign on Wednesday, moving the new start date to August 5 and culminating with the Grey Cup on December 12. That timeline is contingent return to play approval at both the provincial and federal level.

More importantly, the CFL has said a “significant” number of fans must be allowed in stadiums in Week One to proceed, a number estimated to be around 25 percent capacity. That would require a substantial easing of restrictions, entirely predicated on the COVID-19 numbers and vaccination rates.

30 percent of Canadians have already received their first vaccine dose, with the government currently expected to meet the 75 percent threshold on schedule. However, should total vaccinations land at under 55 percent, hospitalizations could spike again in the fall.

That type of fourth wave would be an almost certain death blow for the 2021 CFL season but cases are now on the decline nationally and vaccination rates are on the uptick. With provinces like Alberta already saying capacity restrictions could be totally lifted by late July, there are reasons for cautious optimism.

“There’s reason to be hopeful. We are starting to see provinces and territories implement public health measures and there are positive results. We can see the rates of infection are going down,” deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said in French.

If that trend is to continue enough for the CFL season to go forward, everyone must remain vigilant and get the first shot in the arm offered to them.