Ontario reopening must be cautious because of variants, mayor of hard-hit city says

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TORONTO — The mayor of a community that was hit hard by a COVID-19 variant outbreak is urging people to continue following public health measures when a stay-at-home order lifts for most of the province tomorrow.

Barrie, Ont., Mayor Jeff Lehman says his city has seen how quickly more contagious variants can spread and he's concerned government's economic reopening is coming too soon.

An outbreak involving the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. has lead to the deaths of 70 residents at the Roberta Place long-term care home in Barrie.

The province has seen cases decrease in the last few weeks but Lehman says the government must move swiftly to reimpose strict public health measures, including lockdowns, if cases spike.

Pandemic measures will loosen tomorrow in 27 Ontario health units as they move back into the province's tiered restrictions system.

The plan has been criticized in light of projections showing a likely third wave of COVID-19 in the near future if strict measures aren't in place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press