Health officials and city leaders in Thunder Bay respond to first stage of reopening
The Ford Government made a number of announcements on Thursday, outlining the first stage of Ontario's economic recovery plan, which will include resuming construction projects and the reopening of some workplaces, seasonal activities and healthcare settings.
Officials with the City of Thunder Bay said members of the Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) have been assessing the "lessons learned" through the last several weeks during the pandemic, and as the province begins to move forward with the relaxing of some COVID-19 restrictions.
"It's a knife's edge," said Mayor Bill Mauro about the provincial plan to reopen parts of the economy.
"We're trying to balance reopening of the economy with this necessity...of physical distancing and the health and safety of the population being the overriding concern."
Mauro said the next three to four weeks will be a challenging time as moves are made with reopening, and that it's critical for people in Thunder Bay to continue to practice physical distancing in order to "keep each other safe."
"Any changes in policy that allow for people to gather obviously increases risk. Fundamentally it's going to be up to all of us," he said. "As long as people are mindful I think some of these things can be managed obviously more easily than certainly other things can."
On the public health side, testing will continue to be important as the community starts to reopen, said Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
"As our communities start to reopen, it will be vitally important to continue public health measures, such as physical distancing, and to perform sufficient testing to be able to effectively monitor what is happening in our communities."
In the May 14 edition of the "Ask the MOH" by the TBDHU, Demille said she is supportive of the "one size fits all'' approach to reopening the economy in the province.
"Different regions opening up at different times could actually present some risks to certain areas," she said.
She added that as time goes on, there may be recommendations that will be specific to the TBDHU area, or more broadly in northwestern Ontario.
"We might continue to make specific recommendations around our area and then we might back off of those recommendations if our numbers sort of indicate that we can. We will have some flexibility in those recommendations but broadly we'll follow the province in terms of the broader reopening strategy," said DeMille.