Pandemic not likely to be over in new year

·2 min read

Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health is tempering expectations after the province announced pandemic restrictions will end early next year.

The Ford government says all public health and safety guidelines will be lifted by March 2022, two years to the month since being implemented when the pandemic began. But there’s apprehension the declaration could be premature.

“I am concerned that people will interpret the provincial announcement as we are on a sure trajectory toward the end of this pandemic early in the new year,” says Dr. David Colby.

“I would be overjoyed if that happened… On the other hand do I think that’s likely? No I do not. I think we’re going to be dealing with this in some capacity for quite a while yet,” he says.

“The premier floated the possibility of this happening contingent on the pandemic settling down… The contingencies are very uncertain… I don’t want people to read into that that it’s a sure thing.”

The end of restrictions includes a phasing out of the vaccine passport introduced in September. Colby says he’s worried this gives encouragement to unvaccinated people who can now run out the clock until they can go to non-essential places again.

But, he adds this may not even end up being the case. “It’s not a likelihood, it’s a possibility that the vaccine passport program will be lifted early in the new year.”

“So if people are hanging their hats and saying I’ve only got to hold out for another couple months and I won’t have to get vaccinated, again I would ask what are you holding out for?” asks Colby.

Meanwhile, last week Ontario lifted all capacity limits at public outdoor events such as Remembrance Day gatherings and Santa Claus parades. Christmas events which had been in doubt now have a green light if they can be prepared in time.

“There’s a recognition among experts that outdoor transmission is much less of a risk than indoor transmission. So I think the idea of adopting a more permissive approach for outdoor events is science based,” says Colby.

Personal outdoor social gatherings still have a 100 person limit.

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent

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