The second wave is officially underway across the province and the Ontario Hospital Association is calling for Toronto, the GTA, and Ottawa to return to Stage 2.
With the province reporting 700 new cases in its September 28 update, the OHA is calling on the Government of Ontario to “intensify” the public health measures in certain areas that have reported a significant increase in recent times.
“A return to Stage 2, with restrictions on indoor dining and bars, places of worship, weddings, gyms, movie theatres, and other non-essential businesses, is needed now to keep schools open and prevent a further acceleration of infection,” said Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association, in a release.
“We’ve seen in jurisdictions around the world how acute care capacity can be easily overwhelmed if the number of positive cases rises too sharply. While Canada’s health care system has many strengths, our capacity is limited, and we can no longer retain a false sense of security and belief that this will not happen to us. At this rate, Ontario hospitals are facing a direct threat to their ability to continue delivering the highest quality of care to Ontarians.”
Despite their plea, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said they do not want to head back into Stage 2 unless it is absolutely necessary. She also said they are watching this “very closely.
“We know that this will be worse than the first wave, but what we don’t know yet is how bad the second wave will be,” said premier Doug Ford during Monday’s daily press conference.
Ford said that our actions will decide if this is “a wave or a tsunami.”
He urged residents to download the COVID-19 app.
“Please follow the health guidance, please download the COVID-19 alert app, please get your flu shot this year.”
The Ontario government also announced they are investing $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support more than 3,700 frontline health care workers and caregivers in case of demand.
“Retaining and increasing the number of frontline health care workers in our continuous fight against COVID-19 is critical,” said Elliott in a release. “We are taking further action to ensure our frontline health care workers are supported, and the health care sector has the staff to provide timely, high quality care.”
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The OHA has noted that returning to Stage 2 may come at a cost for many businesses and employees, however, it is stressed that in order to keep schools open and protect the vulnerable, stronger restrictions are needed.
“Ontario hospitals understand that a return to Stage 2 comes at a serious cost to thousands of businesses and their employees, and we must do more than simply appreciate their sacrifices. Employers will require additional help from various levels of government. However, emerging evidence clearly illustrates that indoor settings like bars and restaurants have become significant drivers of rising COVID-19 cases,” said Dale
“Moreover, keeping these settings open while restricting private gatherings sends a confusing message to the public. While changes to these establishments’ operating hours may have a small impact on transmission, we cannot afford to wait and find out. In order to keep schools open, protect our province’s most vulnerable, and conserve our health system’s limited resources, stronger restrictions are needed now.”
On Friday, the province announced that as of September 26, an amended order would see additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars, and other food establishments, including nightclubs, by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 pm.
Drinking alcohol at these establishments is prohibited until 9 am. This regulation also falls on employees and requires all establishments to close by midnight and stay closed until 5 am.
In an effort to reduce the risk of transmission and possible future outbreaks, strip clubs across the province also closed.