WATERLOO REGION — Waterloo Region is settling into the second stage of the provincial reopening plan, and the increased freedoms likely has many residents thinking about what’s to come in the next stage.
But a University of Waterloo public health expert warns that people need to be careful to not jeopardize the chances of graduating to Stage 3, and it still will not be a full return to life before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not going to be exactly like back to normal. You’ll still have some restrictions,” said Prof. Zahid Butt, from the School of Public Health and Health Systems. “You would still have to follow public health guidelines.”
Stage 3, as outlined by the province, will open up all workplaces with safety measures in place. Restrictions on recreation spaces and public gatherings will be relaxed, likely with a different limit on the number of people who can gather inside and outside.
“But they will not allow large public gatherings such as concerts,” Butt said.
Stage 3 is not set in stone and a review of how well Stage 2 is going will help determine what else will open. When will also depend on the level of new cases or hospitalizations.
“Then they’ll make a decision about proceeding to Stage 3,” Butt said.
If there’s a surge, then not only might the region not move onto the next stage, but it could also revert to Stage 1. That’s where a few places in Ontario are still stuck, and Butt said the province may decide to wait for those to get to the second before considering allowing others to move forward.
The region’s acting associate medical officer of health Dr. Julie Emili stressed at Friday’s briefing the importance of following recommendations to reduce the virus’ spread because that’s what is keeping numbers down now. That includes individuals, and businesses ensuring reopening is safe.
“The community plays a role in that,” Emili said. “The actions we take today determine where we are next week and the week after.”
Waterloo Region’s chief administrative officer Mike Murray said it’s the province that sets guidelines about what the stages look like, and when a municipality can move ahead.
“It’s the province that opened the door to Stage 2,” Murray said. “We will absolutely follow the lead of the province.”
He said that before any place can move to the third stage, the province will also need to rescind or amend emergency orders that limit certain things, such as what services libraries and museums can provide.
When will the region get back to normal?
Butt said even when all the restrictions are lifted, some people may want to wait for a vaccine before they feel comfortable resuming life as it was before.
So far, the only country that’s returned to normal is New Zealand, although it still hasn’t reopened its borders and Butt expects that international travel restrictions will linger in Canada for a while too.
Hotspots remain in Canada, while other areas are seeing low case numbers. Saskatchewan is onto Stage 3, while Butt said “Ontario will have to decide on its own.”
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Just being in Stage 2 may help ease some “pandemic fatigue” and social isolation people have been feeling, Butt said.
“Hopefully that will contribute to more of a feeling of a sense of belonging and connection than before.”
Interior Health provides two more COVID-19 exposure locations – Kelowna News – Castanet.net
Individuals who visited the following locations on the dates below may have been exposed to the virus:
- Cactus Club, 1370 Water St., from July 3-6
- PACE Spin Studio, 1717 Harvey Ave., on July 2, 4-5 and 7-9
IH is requesting those individuals closely self-monitor for virus symptoms and get tested if any symptoms show.
On Saturday, IH announced residents who visited Discovery Bay Resort from July 1-5 or Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on July 1 may have come in contact with COVID-19. IH directed individuals who attended gatherings at Discovery Bay Resort or Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on those dates to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms.
Castanet understands the individual/s who visited Discovery Bay Resort were not staying at the resort, but visiting a specific unit thought to have been on the second floor of the South building.
In response, the resort has closed the pools until further guidance is obtained by IH and increased cleaning and sanitization practices.
IH confirmed public health contact tracing is underway, and individuals who may have been exposed are being contacted directly where possible.
Testing is recommended for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Other milder symptoms may include: runny nose, fatigue, body aches (muscles and joints aching), diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes.
IH reminds everyone of the importance of following COVID-19 precautions:
- Stay home and avoid travel if you have symptoms, even mild ones.
- Maintain physical distancing (two metres apart) and use masks when distancing is not possible.
- Wash your hands regularly and do not touch your face.
- Do not plan or attend gatherings of more than 50 people. Limit gatherings to out of doors whenever possible.
For more information, visit the website.
'Plate-shaming' is happening in Atlantic Canada as locals fear those from outside the 'bubble' – CTV News
Atlantic Canada’s reputation for being warm and welcoming has long been a source of pride.
But instead of hospitality, the pandemic is exposing a glimpse of hostility aimed at those who are assumed to be outsiders.
“Being from Halifax, growing up here all but eight years of my life, I really didn’t expect this,” resident Tony Mountenay told CTV News.
Tony and Debbie Mountenay chose to return to Nova Scotia during the pandemic because they were looking for a laid back retirement.
As required, they isolated after they arrived. But then they decided to go out and run errands.
“And we had three different incidents where people came up beside us, yelling at us, through the window, and when it first happened, we had to try to think, well what was that about?” Debbie said.
The answer was the licence plate on their truck — showing that they came from Ontario.
Visitors from beyond the “Atlantic bubble” have been vilified by locals fearing the virus could be imported.
Though relatively rare, there have been incidents of “plate-shaming.”
A woman from Quebec was told to go home while walking on a New Brunswick beach.
More than 15,000 Newfoundlanders signed a petition demanding their province not open the border to anyone.
Debbie said one woman who had harassed the couple had done so in front of her own children.
“She really shouldn’t have been doing that in my opinion,” she said. “Another man, you could tell he was out of control.”
The Atlantic bubble, which encompasses the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, is a concept that was introduced recently to allow easier travel between the Eastern provinces as the region reopens.
People from all across Canada are allowed to travel to any Atlantic province, but those outside of the Atlantic bubble must isolate for 14 days — as leaders in the region are quick to remind people.
“The Atlantic bubble is open today, [but] that does not apply to those who are from Ontario, Quebec or Western Canada,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said. “If you’re coming into our province, you’re required to self isolate as well.”
The Atlantic provinces have largely fared well during the pandemic compared to provinces such as Ontario or Quebec. Of the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia has had the most cases in total, at just over 1,000 — a far cry from Quebec’s 56,521 cumulative cases.
The stress for locals in the Atlantic provinces is that out-of-bubble visitors could lead to a second wave of the virus.
Only last week, a string of new cases in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were proven to be related to travel from outside of the bubble. One individual flew from the United States to Toronto, and then to Halifax. This case was then connected to cases in Prince Edward Island.
McNeil said on July 6 that he is frustrated with travellers who do not isolate for the 14 days after they arrive.
“We have worked hard together and sacrificed so much in this province to help flatten the curve only to have some people come into our province who think they’re above it all, who think that the rules don’t apply to them,” he said. “Guess what? They do.”
But the Mountenay’s experience in Nova Scotia suggests that the uncertainty over who has isolated and who has not has led to some rather un-neighbourly behaviour.
In response, the couple has come with a way to alert people they’re not a threat. A piece of paper that clearly states a person has completed isolation.
“I don’t want to get [COVID-19],” Debbie said. “And I don’t want to give it to anybody.”
Quebec adds 114 new COVID-19 cases as Montreal health raises concerns about bars – National Post
MONTREAL — Quebec reported 114 new COVID-19 infections Sunday as health officials in Montreal urged bar patrons and employees having frequented an establishment since July 1 to get tested.
With the new confirmed cases, the province has now had 56,521 cases of COVID-19.
The province also added seven further deaths linked to the virus for a total of 5,627.
Of those, three deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
On Saturday, Montreal’s public health authority urged people and employees having frequented bars since Canada Day to get tested.
Authorities said there are investigations involving at least eight cases stemming from five Montreal bars, but feared that was but the tip of the iceberg.
Some Montreal bars took to their social media accounts to announce they’d had positive cases in their establishments.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante also called on citizens falling into the public health warning to get tested.
“The nice summer weather may be upon us, but the virus is far from gone,” she wrote on Twitter, urging people respect distancing and face-covering rules.
Quebec is to introduce mandatory masks on public transit beginning Monday, with a two-week grace period before users will be denied service as of July 27.
Montreal has also indicated it intends to bring in mandatory masks for enclosed public spaces as of that date.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2020.
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