ontario lockdown end

Ontario doctors say it's too early to end the lockdown

When is the Ontario lockdown actually going to end? It's a question that seems to be on everyone's minds these days, and doctors in the province have some key advice for whoever makes the decision:

Go big, or go into an endless spiral of businesses closing down again within weeks, if not days, of reopening to an increasingly frustrated population.

Also, let us play golf, you monsters.

This is the gist (minus the monsters thing) of a newly-released letter from the Ontario Medical Association expressing support for the extension of lockdown measures beyond May 20, when stay-at-home orders are set to be lifted after six full weeks.

"The province is not yet ready to lift the stay-at-home order while about 2,000 people are testing positive for COVID-19 every day and 1,800 people are so sick they need hospital care, 800 of them in intensive care units," reads the letter from the OMA, which represents some 43,000 Ontario physicians, medical students and retired physicians.

"Extending the stay-at-home order significantly increases the likelihood Ontarians can enjoy a less restrictive summer and have a 'more normal' fall."

However, like the City of Toronto and other advocates, the OMA is urging Doug Ford to reopen outdoor amenities.

"Doctors do prescribe reopening more outdoor recreational facilities such as golf courses and basketball and tennis courts to improve people's physical and mental health," reads the OMA letter, published May 12.

"This needs to be done safely and with clear guidelines around when to wear masks and how many people can gather to avoid large COVID-spreading events on the May 24 long weekend."

Golf courses, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, skate parks and a whole host of other outdoor amenities were closed across Ontario when the latest provincewide shutdown order came into effect on April 8.

Most types of outdoor fitness equipment remain prohibited under the Reopening Ontario Act and, despite much opposition, it doesn't seem likely that Ford will be lifting these restrictions on his own.

The province has indicated that it is considering an extension of current lockdown orders, but doctors worry that prohibiting outdoor sports will have unintended negative consequences.

"We all want the Third Wave to be the last wave," said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill on Tuesday.

"We're just not ready yet to reopen. No one wants to start lifting restrictions too soon, only to find the virus spreading again, and we have to go back into lockdown."

As for how long the shutdown should be extended, the doctors say it all depends on "many factors," including how many people are vaccinated and when.

"Even when we do start to reopen safely it will take weeks, and in some cases months, for some of those numbers to fall significantly," reads the letter.

"While care in the community should open soon, we need to ensure hospitals have capacity to care for people who continue to be infected with the virus as well as non-COVID patients."

Another factor that many people don't seem to take into account when discussing restrictions pertains to the frontline heroes themselves.

Says the OMA: "Doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who have been working on the front lines of the pandemic for more than a year also are in needs of breaks to tend to their own physical and mental health."

Lead photo by

Sun Flowers


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