Can I take a ride during a global pandemic?

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TORONTO –
With the continued spread of COVID-19, Canadians are spending less time outdoors. Thanks to suggestions from government and health officials to stay indoors, the acts of going out for some fresh air and walking around have become controversial.

But what about driving? As a car is an enclosed space, there is less risk of exposure to the outdoors. For many, it can also be quite relaxing, helping to relieve stress after a long day of comfort. So, is it OK to just go for a drive?

Although the Canadian government has not prohibited driving or made public any guidelines as to when it is acceptable to drive, the overarching message from senior government officials has been to stay inside and practice driving. physical distance.

“It is your duty to listen to public health rules,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday at one of his daily press conferences. “Staying at home is your way of serving, so be smart about what you do, the choices you make. This is how you will serve your country and how we will all serve ourselves. “

Senior health officials echoed this message, asking Canadians not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary, including going to work, getting food or medicine, or looking for medical help. It is also advisable not to meet anyone with whom you do not live and to keep a distance of at least two meters from others when you are outside.

With such simple suggestions, the infectious disease expert, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, says there should be no doubt about whether it is okay to drive unnecessarily.

“There are clear messages on the public health website,” he told CTVNews.ca by phone on Wednesday. “Everyone knows what to do. “

In fact, the doctor says he has received a number of questions from members of the public about specific daily practices, including something as simple as how to play tennis appropriately.

“It will be impossible to micromanage all possibilities for human behavior,” he said. “I just hope people take common sense into account.”

Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Kerry Schmidt says there is a clear answer to the question of whether it is okay to leave the house for aimless driving: no.

Schmidt encourages people to stay indoors and leave the house only when necessary, such as shopping for groceries and medicines. It means not going for a walk just because you want to.

“If you have no reason to be away, don’t do it,” he told CTVNews.ca by phone on Wednesday. “We want people to voluntarily comply with the situation we face.”

Staying indoors plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, says Dave Deines, President of the Paramedic Association of Canada. In a collision, for example, you may come into close contact with a number of other people, including paramedics, firefighters and police. This contact increases the chances of transmitting the virus.

“Every call we go to has the potential to be COVID or [influenza-like illness] call, so the more people outside, the greater the risk of getting infected, “Deines told CTVNews.ca by phone on Wednesday.

Although paramedics are expected to wear the highest quality protective equipment, their unpredictable working environment and close contact with patients make them particularly vulnerable to infection. Staying on the road reduces the chances of needing pre-hospital care, says Deines, which is why he recommends it.

“In general, we know what needs to be done to smooth the curve and stop the community spread,” said Deines. “Staying at home is one of the things you can do to protect everyone, including first responders.”

The UK has recently given its police the power to fine and arrest anyone who does not comply with the new lockdowns that are supposed to control the spread of COVID-19. According to the regulations, citizens should only leave their homes to go to work, buy food and medicine, exercise, or get or provide medical assistance.

If someone is discovered by the police to be outside for any other reason, or in a group of more than two people, they can be arrested or fined – first-time offenders are fined £ 60. (approximately $ 105), and fines continue to double for each subsequent offense.

According to Ontario Provincial Police Schmidt, similar measures have not been adopted in Ontario, and police officers do not perform spot checks on vehicles to ensure that people are practicing physical distance. Despite this, he says that the message of staying home as much as possible persists.

“We do not stop without reason to check who is inside and ask for places to live,” he said. “But we still want people to voluntarily comply with the recommendations of public health and government officials, and not be a channel of transmission.

“Many people are doing their part to isolate themselves and change their behavior, but there is still traffic there,” he said. “We hope that all of our efforts together will help smooth the curve.”

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