Ontario is letting regions decide if they need more COVID-19 restrictions
Just weeks into the first phase of reopening Ontario, some public health units are already reinstating tougher COVID-19 restrictions.
So far, Algoma Public Health and Public Health Sudbury and Districts have reintroduced capacity limits as COVID-19 cases began to rise in the regions. Southwestern Public Health is considering reinstating capacity limits, according to reports by the Canadian Press.
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Public health officials are keeping an eye on key indicators, such as case numbers, reproduction rate and hospital and ICU admissions as the province reopens. On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford told reporters that COVID-19 restrictions are entirely in local units’ hands.
“If the local medical officer of health feels they need to pause things, we can pause things,” he told reporters at an unrelated press conference.
He said that with so many people in the province vaccinated, he doesn’t expect another wave of COVID-19 to get near as bad as previous waves.
When asked about the latest modelling from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table showing an uncertain future in the province as cases have risen quickly in a brief period, he said he looks to the chief medical officer of health for guidance.
“I rely on the chief medical officer as I have from day one, he’s the expert, and local medical officers, that’s who I rely on,” he said.
In Toronto, there are not yet any plans to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions and capacity limits. Last week, Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters he was concerned about people not wearing masks at packed sporting events.
Toronto Public Health told Daily Hive in an email that they are closely monitoring the situation in the city and that there are not yet indicators that Toronto should reinstate capacity limits.
“We have observed that our reproduction number (an indicator of pandemic growth potential) has hovered around 1.0 for several weeks (with some natural variability). This value suggests that each case is expected to generate or transmit to one other case, which has kept our case counts somewhat steady,” a spokesperson for TPH said in an email.
They added that an uptick in cases was expected with capacity limits being lifted and colder weather setting in, moving gatherings indoors. They strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to do so.