From the Mayor's Desk:
Opening, Slowly and Carefully
Doug Lawrance - Sioux Lookout Mayor
There is now much discussion about re-opening the economy. Discussions are taking place at all levels from households to employers to governments. In Canada we can be grateful that our Provincial and Federal levels are communicating and coordinating with each other. The key messaging from all governments has been that opening will be done slowly and carefully and that it will be informed and monitored by public health authorities.
Last week, on the weekly Northwestern Health Unit update teleconference with regional municipal leaders, the question of re-opening was posed to the Medical Officer of Health. The response points provided can help to keep us calm through this anxious and uncertain time and are woven in to this article.
There continues to be considerable discussion through Provincial Public Health tables about how to lift restrictions. There will be continuing cooperation between Federal and Provincial Public Health authorities and governments to develop plans and guidelines that are coordinated across the country and across each Province. Re-opening will also be based on Provincial and local evidence and will be done in light of the experience seen in other countries and World Health Organization guidelines. Opening will be done carefully and slowly, sector by sector. Close monitoring and good testing will be a very important part of the incremental opening. If that monitoring reveals the situation worsens as evidenced by an increase in cases, restrictions can be tightened – if not, the lifting process will continue.
At the local regional level, Public Health thinks that we are about two weeks behind Southern Ontario on the spread of the novel coronavirus. This phenomenon is seen on an annual basis with seasonal influenza. While we are behind on the spread, we closed down at the same time as Southern Ontario. There is speculation that through this early closure we may have benefitted from better protection. Monitoring of case counts will determine whether we have or have not reached our regional peak of cases, which may or may not be behind Southern Ontario. All Northern Ontario Health Units are on the same page regarding the restrictions and the timing of the gradual lifting of them.
So at this time, as anxious as we may be to open up and relax, we must stay on course. We must continue to follow the measures prescribed by public health authorities through our Provincial Government. We must not put ourselves and others at risk through undisciplined or selfish behavior.
Re-opening the economy must be done in such a way that it does not destroy the good results from the work that we have all put in through this period of closure. It must be done slowly and carefully.