Peel Region and Toronto will be entering Stage 3 on Friday, joining the rest of Ontario in the province’s reopening framework. “Toronto and Peel region can proceed to Stage 3 on Friday July 31st, at 12:01am”, announced Premier Ford.
Stage 3 will allow nearly all local businesses and amenities to reopen, including dine-in restaurants, city playgrounds and parks. Gyms, recreation centres and public pools will remain closed until after Labour day. Stage 3 will also further reopen workplaces, allowing individuals to return to work. Indoor and outdoor gathering limitations will be loosened to allow up to 50 and 100 individuals respectively. Masks remain mandatory indoors.
However, although Brampton’s advancement to Stage 3 can be encouraging, public health experts are adamant that we must remain vigilant. “I want you to know that this doesn’t mean things are done, we are in the hardest part of the pandemic”, said Dr. Lawrence Loh.
While a majority of Brampton reopens to the public, this can also present new niduses of infection for COVID-19. Practicing public health measures is critical in preventing a second wave of cases, as emphasized by Dr Loh.
Is Brampton really ready for Stage 3?
According to the Peel COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiologic Update, case numbers in Brampton appear promising, with the pandemic curve having been significantly flattened since April.
“We have seen single digit case counts in Brampton for much of the last week”, said Mayor Brown in Brampton’s weekly COVID-19 update.
Although case numbers in Brampton appears to be decreasing, many residents are reluctant to completely re-open the city. According to the Ontario Medical Association, the reopening of indoor bars is a potential risk for further outbreaks. Even in bars that had strictly followed public health safety protocol, transmission of COVID-19 had occurred.
Loh explained that the initial lockdown of Brampton was only temporary, and the plan was always to reopen when cases were under control. Loh suggested that reopening the city is crucial, citing significant impacts to individuals from a prolonged lockdown, affecting economy, well-being and mental health.
Loh commented that the only time Brampton would consider a regression back to Stage 2 is if the city starts to record significant spikes in cases stemming from multiple different venues and origins.
As social gathering restrictions loosen, residents are concerned that Stage 3 could bring about another wave of cases into Brampton. With Osler shutting down their triage tents outside Brampton Civic Hospital, could Brampton be compromising their treatment capacity ahead of Stage 3? Despite public concerns, health experts are confident that the healthcare system is equipped for increases in patient volume.
“As part of our robust pandemic plan and our many proactive steps to ensure the hospital is well-prepared, Osler has managed its capacity and patient volumes effectively through the pandemic”, said Executive Vice President Kiki Ferrari.
“The reality is until we find a vaccine, COVID-19 is here to stay, but today’s numbers should give us some hope”, Ford concluded.