Ontariens frustrated as restrictions ease elsewhere in North America

As provinces across Canada, and states south of the border, edge towards fewer restrictions Ontario is limping behind, but it’s a question of “them going too early” rather “than not us not going fast enough” according to the Eastern Ontario’s top doctor.

From their respective front rooms and basements, sporting fans across the country have their gaze firmly cast on the NHL playoffs this week as no fans are allowed into the arenas to witness the all-Canadian confrontations.

Stark contrast to their American counterparts as the Nashville Predators were cheered on by over 12,000 people, with the capacity set to increase to close to 14,000 on Thursday evening or even British Columbia who recently announced that wearing masks in indoor public spaces could be optional by July 1.

“One of the things that adds to people’s distress,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, “is there are other areas in Canada and in the US that are opening up quicker than we are.”

With similar vaccination rates (Tennessee has vaccinated approximately 70% of the eligible population compared to 60% in Eastern Ontario) and cases per 100,000 people within the same range as the EOHU, Dr. Roumeliotis believes that other areas are loosening restrictions too soon.

“I think it’s a matter of them going too early rather than us not going fast enough,” he said. “We want this to be the last lockdown, that’s very important.

“If we open up too early and then have to retract that’ll be worse. We’re going in the right direction and we have some loose timelines, they’re not abstract, they’re there.”

With the Outaouais-region in West Quebec easing rules before Ontario, there are further worries that this will have a negative effect on those living on the border.

“We need to do a ‘go slow’ approach,” Dr. Roumeliotis said. “We’ve had more ICU admissions than they did.

“We are not at the stage to start opening up like they are. It’s just a matter of time, it’s a couple of weeks, we’re not talking years and we’re not talking indefinitely either.

“People need to be aware that our situation is a bit different than it is in Quebec, particularly with the ICU cases.”

Positive news for EOHU coming out of the long weekend

Although we will have to wait close to two weeks before seeing the effects the long weekend may have on the local COVID-19 numbers, Dr. Roumeliotis shared some positive news during the EOHU press conference on Tuesday 25, May.

“In our area, I’m very happy to report, on Victoria day we had 0 cases to report,” he said. “This is the first time in months this has happened.

“Over the weekend we went up 13 cases. If you recall in the past we have had weekends where we have had 100, 150.”

There are currently 63 active cases in the Prescott-Russell region of which 22 are in Clarence-Rockland.

With the EOHU set to reach the 100,000 doses of the vaccine against COVID-19 administered before the end of the week there is cause for optimism with the EOHU announcing that the Ministry booking system for second doses is coming soon.


Thomas Stockting- Journalist at TVC22