COVID-19 will be present in our community for the foreseeable future, even when there is a vaccine. Figuring out how to move forward in the meantime is about balance.
Closing businesses and schools has serious long-term impacts on businesses and individuals. These closures cause stress and anxiety and job losses, and we don’t want to go down that road again.
The number of cases of COVID-19 can’t be our only measure of how we’re doing as a community. Yes, it is still crucial that we reduce the spread of COVID-19. That won’t change any time soon. But as we look ahead to shorter and colder winter days, we need to find a path forward that supports our physical and mental health and our economic well-being at the same time.
So what now?
As of Saturday November 7, many businesses will be able to resume services that were impacted by the recent public health orders. They will still have strict protocols and rules in place to try to reduce the spread of the virus.
No one should take the easing of restrictions on businesses as a sign that we can let our guard down. In fact, the opposite is true. If we want this reopening to be successful and sustainable, each of us will have live by these simple yet essential health protocols:
- Continue to wear masks
- Stay 2 metres apart from people you don’t live with
- Wash your hands frequently
- Stay home if you are sick
Gathering with friends or family from outside your household is still not recommended.
We know the virus spreads when people from different households gather in one another’s homes, in break rooms at work, while carpooling and in other settings where we tend to let our guard down.
In a public place such as a restaurant or gym, people tend to do a better job of following health protocols. This is why public settings are the place to start as we look for ways to cautiously reopen.
No matter what environment you’re in, Ottawa Public Health still recommends limiting close contacts to only those within your household. If you choose to meet up with someone outside your household, stay two metres apart, wear a mask, stay outdoors, keep it brief and be vigilant in places where maintaining distance is difficult.
Resources for businesses
If your business is among those reopening or resuming services, check out Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework to find out what this means for you. If you have questions, you can call the Stop the Spread Hotline at 1-888-444-3659.
You can also visit Ottawa.ca for more resources.
Tips for residents
- Different types of businesses have different rules and protocols. Before heading out, find out what to expect and plan accordingly.
- If you haven’t already, find masks that offer good protection and that are also comfortable. Got one or two favourites? Buy or make five more. When adding to your inventory of cloth masks, opt for one with three layers.
- It’s easier said than done, but focus on what you can do, rather than what is still not recommended. The one thing COVID-19 and positivity have in common is that they are both highly contagious.
- Check in on friends, family and neighbours. We need each other now more than ever. People are struggling with mental health, especially as our usual social supports may be unavailable to us. Even if it’s a brief phone or video chat, connecting makes a difference.
For the latest advice from Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health herself, see Dr. Vera Etches’ recent statement.