Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Gradual Re-opening of Ontario’s Economy Begins

Ontarians will be under a provincial stay at home order for another week, until February 16, when the province will embark on a gradual reopening of its economy.

The announcement, made by Premier Doug Ford during a press conference on Monday afternoon, advised Ontarians that the stay at home order implemented on January 14 would be extended by one week.

“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families, and workers across the province,” said Premier Ford. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”

Ford told reporters that the stay at home order has been working. Prior to the stay at home order Ontario was seeing more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases daily, with models at the time predicting as many as 6,000 daily cases if action had not been taken. On Monday of this week Ontario reported 1,265 new COVID-19 cases.

The premier asked Ontarians to “hang in there a little longer”.

A press release issued after the premier’s press conference noted that, “To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions. Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.”

Noting the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, the Province announced that it is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed.

If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission,” the press release explained.

When deemed safe to do so, the Province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework. It is unknown at this time which level of the framework Grey-Bruce will enter once the stay at home order ends, however officials advised the public on Monday that there will be an update once more information is available.

Locally, the Grey-Bruce Health Unit has seen a total of 665 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 21 cases currently active. Currently the GBHU has one COVID-19 patient hospitalized, and there has been one death in the region as a result of the virus.

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