With Omicron’s peak in the rearview mirror and local public health indicators continuing to improve, Grey-Bruce’s top doctor says the area is in a favourable position as it looks ahead to the Ontario government’s plan to accelerate its re-opening Thursday.
Grey-Bruce medical officer of health Dr. Ian Arra says all key public health and health system indicators are improving, including the number of new COVID-19 cases in high-risk sectors, hospitalizations, deaths and outbreaks in congregate care settings as well as the complexity of outbreaks.
“We are in a good position to join the rest of the province in further easing public health measures in Grey-Bruce,” Arra says.
“All indicators suggest that Omicron peaked in Grey-Bruce just over a month ago – ahead of the province. This is great news and directly related to the tremendous efforts invested by all in Grey Bruce. We know that everyone is excited to get back to normal.”
“However, I would caution everyone to remain vigilant and continue following the public health measures and guidelines that are still in place. Only then will we be able to truly put this emergency behind us.”
The Ontario government announced Monday that in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, it has decided to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures sooner, with the next phase of measures being eased Thursday at 12:01 a.m.
Social gathering limits will rise to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, while capacity limits will be lifted for indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas.
More details on the province’s announcement can be found here.
Also Monday, the Ontario government announced it is expanding booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.
Booster appointments will be booked for about six months (168 days) after a second dose. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system and the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, as well as at select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to adolescents aged 12 to 17 with an underlying medical condition at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19; who are residents of congregate living settings; or who belong to racialized and/or marginalized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Other highlights of the Ontario government’s announcement included the province’s plan to: take additional steps March 1 to further ease public health measures, including lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings, if health system and public health indicators continue to improve; and lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at that time.
Masking requirements are to remain in place, with a specific timeline to lift this measure to be communicated at a later date.
To coincide with the easing of restrictions, the Grey Bruce Health Unit will be modifying its Situation Report starting Thursday.
Dr. Arra says communicating the positive trends at this stage of transitioning from pandemic to endemic phase is an important part of managing risk perception to appropriately guide the community to recovery.