Local Medical Officer of Health: “Reopening businesses is a calculated risk.”

Dr. Charles Gardner said the virus can take off again if we are not careful

With many retail stores being allowed to do business again on Tuesday after being closed for months, the Ontario government continued with the first stage of its plan to reopen the province. Golf courses and marinas opened over the weekend.

Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said this was a calculated risk.

“Unfortunately, in circumstances of a COVID world, until we can bring it under control with a vaccine, which could be late next year by all accounts, then we will have to make the trade off risk.”

Gardner said compared to the Toronto area there is a low incidence of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka.

“But it can all come back if we are not careful. We have low level circulation. If we aren’t careful about physical distancing, handwashing, and careful business practices, it can take off again and start to surge again. We know that from our modelling. We will have to take some risks at some point for the economy and to provide what we need.”

Gardner said people will want more quality of life for their health and well-being, to get out and have more of a social life and social interactions.

“We make these trade-offs and watch carefully if they are having a negative impact. If that’s the case, then we put in place more of these restrictions again. I can’t say it is absolutely safe. It’s a calculated risk.”

Gardner said there were 53 new cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka last week compared to 73 the week before, which he said was good news.

“We had a plateau or slight increase over the last three weeks until this latest data which is a more favourable and a positive sign. By no means can we say it’s over. It goes back to calculated risk. There is still circulation of the virus and the province has to open up in a careful way.”

As well as some businesses, the Ford government has permitted the reopening of outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog parks, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas.

Gardner said it’s a good thing people can go out and be more physically active and have exposure to green space, and improve the quality of their lives and their mental health. He said while doing so, it is important to continue physical distancing from other people.