By MPP Toby Barrett
The Ontario Government, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has moved the Haldimand-Norfolk public health region into Stage 2 reopening, as of Friday, June 19. Further investigation into the farm outbreak determined the virus has been contained and there is now less chance of spread to the community.
Decisions such as these are reassessed weekly and will continue to be informed by public health advice and workplace safety guidance— supported by the collective efforts of businesses, workers and families to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s really up to us all — everyone, regardless of where we live in Haldimand-Norfolk, or across Ontario for that matter, must continue to follow public health advice. In order to progress to further stages of reopening, everyone must be vigilant and continue to practice physical distancing measures; wearing a non-medical face covering if physical distancing is a challenge; washing our hands often and thoroughly; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home if we are feeling unwell.
Ontario is taking an evidence-based approach to this reopening of our economy and our communities. As such, the province continues to monitor and reassess public health regions For example, if a situation worsens, decisions will be made on whether additional public health measures are necessary or if we need to revert back to an earlier stage.
Ongoing monitoring of progress and identifying when a change in direction may be required is guided by specific public health criteria – virus spread and containment; hospital and health system capacity; and the capacity to track incidents of the disease.
Nearly five months after identifying the first confirmed case in Ontario, and three months after declaring a state of emergency, there are unmistakable signs that we’re making real progress in the fight. Let’s keep at it! In Stage 2 hair salons and patio restaurants are two examples of businesses able to reopen.
Employers across the province are taking steps to protect workers and make their workplaces safer as the economy reopens. Government resources for employers help with identifying and assessing COVID-related risks; custom-tailoring safety plans and deciding on what personal protective equipment is appropriate. Something like 158 health and safety guidance documents can be found at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety. As we enter Stage 2, businesses are encouraged to call Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
The COVID-19 outbreak has created economic uncertainty around the world. Our gradual approach puts safety first, but may continue to delay workers returning to their jobs.
Ontario’s $17 billion Action Plan provides $7 billion in urgent direct funding for people and their health care, as well as, $10 billion in cash flow support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals.
COVID-19 is still a risk and everyday actions to reduce exposure continue to be crucial to ensure we sustain our progress – these measures will need to remain in place until an effective treatment is found or vaccine widely available.
Across Ontario, 14.5 million people answered the call to be cautious and to serve in any way that they could. Because of this dedication and perseverance, we can begin to see our province and our area open and return back to normal.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk