TORONTO, MAY 12, 2021 — Ontario’s doctors support the government extending the province-wide pandemic lockdown due to expire May 20 and recommend easing restrictions on outdoor recreation where it is safe to do so.
The Ontario Medical Association says 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. But 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. 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.
“We all want the third wave to be the last wave,” said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill. “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.” Extending the stay-at-home order significantly increases the likelihood Ontarians can enjoy a less restrictive summer and have a “more normal” fall.
The OMA calls on all Ontarians to continue following public health guidelines to ensure the third wave is the last wave of the pandemic. The most important thing everyone can do is get vaccinated and talk to their family doctor or local public health unit if they have any questions. The OMA said how long the lockdown needs to be extended depends on many factors, including how many people are vaccinated and when. But the decision should be based on evidence and advice from the province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. 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.
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. Intensive care units continue to be over capacity. 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 need of breaks to tend to their own physical and mental health.
“People are tired of restrictions being lifted only to be put in place again a few weeks later,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “It is hard on the economy and hard on people’s livelihoods and mental health. Please get vaccinated as soon as possible, keep maintaining physical distancing and exercise good hygiene.”
About the OMA
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000 plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.
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