Sioux Lookout, NWO communities move into Stage 3 of province’s reopening framework, NWHU urging residents to be cautious
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux Lookout and the rest of Northwestern Ontario (NWO) moved into Stage 3 of the Government of Ontario’s reopening framework on July 17.
Nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen as part of Stage 3 according to the provincial government.
As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits to:
Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.
“Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events… Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage,” the provincial government shared in a news release issued on (July 13).
Outdoor playgrounds and play structures are permitted to reopen in Stage 3, although the provincial government informed, “physical distancing of at least two metres must be in place at all indoor playgrounds and play structures, except between individuals from the same household or social circle.”
Also able to reopen in Stage 3 are restaurants, bars and nightclubs, all organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g., parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions), casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments, concerts and live shows, including performing arts, convention centres and other meeting or event spaces, facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios), festivals, recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring), movie theatres, real estate open houses, sporting and racing events, tour and guide services (including boat tours).
“The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
Amusement parks and water parks
Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
Overnight stays at camps for children
Private karaoke rooms
Prolonged or deliberate
contact while playing sports
Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
“All other businesses and public spaces will be permitted to be open, subject to ensuring the appropriate health and safety measures are in place, as well as limits on gathering sizes,” the Government of Ontario shared.
“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” stated Premier Doug Ford. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”
“As the province safely and gradually enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place. Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak,” the Government of Ontario news release explained.
People are advised to check their local public health unit and Municipality’s websites to stay up to date on the easing of local restrictions and public health requirements.
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout advised last week that it is finalizing details and confirming plans for Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening framework.
The Northwestern Health Unit is urging people to be cautious as the province enters Stage 3.
“While more businesses and public spaces reopen, Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) urges the public to continue practising personal preventive measures to stay safe and to keep the number of local cases low.
“The progression to Stage 3 is a reflection of how well the public has followed control measures, and that the measures are working. It does not mean that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower than before. The risk remains the same, and can be reduced by staying 2 metres from those not in your social circle, washing your hands regularly, and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible,” the NWHU advised in a news release.
“It does not mean that life is back to normal. As more public places open, now is the time to be even more cautious than ever. There is a risk that reopening can lead to a surge in cases if the virus comes to the area and the public does not follow personal preventive measures,” said Dr. Ian Gemmill, Acting Medical Officer of Health at NWHU. “Although groups of 50 indoors and 100 outdoors are now allowed, people must stay 2 metres apart from those not in their immediate social circle of 10,” Dr. Gemmill continued. “Masks are also strongly recommended in enclosed public spaces”.
Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority Public Health Physician Dr. John Guilfoyle also spoke last week about the benefits of wearing a mask.
Guilfoyle said masks help protect others if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are in isolation.
He also said they can offer a measure of personal protection if you are in a situation where physical distancing may be hard as he said you are less likely to inhale droplets from someone if you are wearing a mask.
Guilfoyle advised people to wash their hands before donning their mask, don’t touch your mask while you are wearing it, and wash your hands again after taking it off.