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COVID-19 restrictions could lift when 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated: PHAC

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In the first official glimpse of what life in Canada could be like in the months to come, the Public Health Agency of Canada released potential scenarios for the spring, summer and fall.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu called it a “roadmap” that will help provinces and territories decide next steps as the national vaccination campaign continues to ramp up.

“For now, you need to keep following public health advice whether or not you’ve been vaccinated to keep yourself, your family and your community safe,” Hajdu said.

“More people need to be vaccinated before we can ease restrictions.”

With COVID-19 cases still high in many parts of Canada this month and vaccine coverage low, but growing, the recommendations remain what they have been for several months: stay home, continue following local public health advice and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.

Read more: Provinces tighten COVID-19 restrictions as high infection rates persist

By summer, as millions more vaccines funnel into the country, there’s a chance for restrictions to lift but there’s a caveat — 75 per cent of those eligible for vaccines need to have one dose, and 20 per cent need a second.

As of this week, more than 50 per cent of eligible Canadians have received their first dose of a vaccine.

Should that threshold be met, things like camping and dining on patios could return and be safely maintained. The emphasis, though, is on outdoor activities. Even if Canada reaches that vaccination goal, mask-wearing and physical distancing will still be around.

Click to play video: COVID-19: Ontario shutters outdoor amenities until at least June 2

There could be more hope for the fall, according to officials, but the vaccination threshold is higher and must be met in order to earn more normalcy.

Cases must be low and more people need to be fully vaccinated — 75 per cent.

While still up to local jurisdictions, PHAC says there’s a chance Canadians could get back to college classrooms, play indoor sports, and hold family gatherings.

Read more: Canada should look to Britain for a view of a COVID-19 future, experts say

The formal recommendations come on the heels of new guidelines out of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear masks or physically distance in most cases, even during large gatherings indoors.

This is a developing story. More information to come.