Reopening Ontario safely

OMA recommends five public health pillars for a safe reopening

As we are reopening Ontario with a manageable rate of COVID-19, and in anticipation of possible next waves, the province needs to be prepared.

The Ontario government has released a framework for reopening our province, which outlines the phased approach and criteria to lift restrictions. As parts of the world begin to transition to a “new normal,” we have a great deal to learn from their experience.

In Reopening Ontario to a “New Normal”, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) does not recommend specific criteria or phases for reopening Ontario or prescribe when and which types of public activities and spaces can be reopened. Instead the OMA recommends the public health measures that must be in place as Ontario is gradually reopened.

Until a vaccine or other treatment is developed, five public health pillars must be in place for Ontario to be ready to reopen and throughout all phases of reopening.

These pillars are:

  1. Continuing personal protective measures, including wearing masks, physical distancing, influenza vaccination and hygiene practices.
  2. Continuing necessary testing, with investment in and uptake of innovative testing solutions, as well as serology testing and immunity research.
  3. Capacity to trace all case contacts and to enforce and support contact isolation.
  4. Protection of all populations and targeted approaches to protecting children and vulnerable populations.
  5. Balancing public trust in and public compliance with the other public health pillars to safely reopen Ontario.

Frequently asked questions

Why did the OMA release a plan to support the safe reopening of Ontario?

Ontario’s doctors are committed to providing the best patient care possible.  We worked closely with government and other stakeholders to prepare for and manage through COVID-19. We are offering our expertise and leadership now to help avoid another COVID-19 surge.  

The OMA paper sets out a series of increased public health measures it recommends be put in place for the province to re-open safely.

Those include:

  1.   Continuing personal protective measures, including wearing masks, physical distancing, influenza vaccination and hygiene practices.
  2.   Continuing necessary testing, with investment in and uptake of innovative testing solutions, as well as serology testing and immunity research.
  3.   Capacity to trace all case contacts and to enforce and support contact isolation.
  4.   Protection of all populations and targeted approaches to protecting children and vulnerable populations.
  5.   Balancing public trust in and public compliance with the other public health pillars to safely reopen Ontario.

What advice does the OMA have for employees returning to work?

We urge everyone to continue doing what they can to keep themselves and others safe. Wear masks, wash hands often and practice physical distancing.

 

What advice does the OMA have for employers for reopening the workplace?

We strongly recommend that employers regularly clean and disinfect common high-traffic areas, and shared surfaces and items.

Staff should have access to handwashing facilities and/or hand sanitizers, as well as the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) required.

Physical distancing should be enabled as much as possible, and employers should encourage employees to continue to work from home if they are able.

Employers should also understand that employees will need to self-isolate if they become sick.

 

If I go back to work and experience symptoms, what should I do?

You should not be at work if you are ill. Let your Human Resources department or manager know, according to your workplace’s policy, and leave work. Call your doctor’s office or Telehealth for further instructions.

 

Coworkers often share or touch common office items, such as coffee machines, printers, computers and phones. How should I protect myself?

Avoid shared items where possible. Bring your own coffee, try not to share computers or phones, employers should help to facilitate this.

If you have to touch or use items that others are also using, you should disinfect the surface/item and wash or sanitize your hands before and after use.

Employers are strongly encouraged to regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces/items.

And as always, keep your distance.

 

What if I have to take public transit to get to work?

If you can work from home, you should continue to do so.

We recommend that employers encourage people to use their own means of transportation where possible and reserve public transit for those without other options.

The OMA recommends wearing a mask in public, washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer before and after getting on transit, and keeping your distance as much as possible from other passengers. Cough or sneeze into your elbow and do not touch your face.

 

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a process that is used to identify, educate and monitor individuals who have had close contact with someone who is infected with a virus. These individuals are at a higher risk of becoming infected and sharing the virus with others. Contact tracing can help the individuals understand their risk and limit further spread of the virus.