Ontario could reopen outdoor recreation facilities before stay-at-home order expires, health minister says – fr

Ontario could reopen outdoor recreation facilities before stay-at-home order expires, health minister says – fr

TORONTO – Health Minister Christine Elliott says her government will reopen recreational facilities “on or before June 2” when the current stay-at-home order expires.

The Ford government decided to close all recreation facilities on April 16 amid a devastating third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision has shocked a number of epidemiologists and public experts who have consistently argued that the risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors is extremely low.

It also happened despite advice from the Ontario Science Advisory Table warning that any policy discouraging outdoor activities will do little to control the spread of COVID-19 while having a disproportionate effect on people. children.

Speaking during Question Period at Queen’s Park on Monday, Elliott said her government still believes it would be “irresponsible” to reopen recreation facilities today with the number of cases still high, but she also gave the clearest indication to date that some recreation facilities will soon reopen, possibly even before the expiration of the current stay-at-home order.

“Today is not the day to open everything. I think it would be irresponsible of us to do that today. But we are monitoring the evidence daily and it will happen no later than June 2, ”she said.

Premier Doug Ford has championed the closure of recreational facilities as a means of reducing mobility and deterring people from leaving their homes for non-essential purposes.

But others argued that the closures had done more harm than good.

Elliott’s comments on Monday follow a new report from a group of researchers calling on the Ford government to “immediately prioritize outdoor activities for children and youth” to help mitigate some of the “devastating impacts Restrictions related to the pandemic have taken place on their health and well-being.

The report, prepared by researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children, the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services in Toronto, argues that the pandemic has had a “dramatic effect” on physical and mental health. children’s health because it deprived them of “important social, emotional and physical interactions”.

The report states that while “structured physical activity” in schools and other organized settings would be ideal, it is also helpful to allow children to participate in unstructured recreational activities in small groups provided they are able to practice. physical distancing.

“The science is clear that the risk of transmitting COVID-19 outdoors is significantly lower than that of transmitting indoors, especially with proper distance and personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore, there is an urgent need to prioritize outdoor activities for children and youth in order to begin to mitigate the devastating and inequitable effects of pandemic-related restrictions on their health and well-being, and to support a active recovery for children, youth and their families. Say the researchers.

The researchers say their report should serve as a “call to action” with the goal of “facilitating increased activity levels among children and youth during and after the pandemic, with an emphasis on outdoor activities ”.

They make dozens of recommendations in total, but the main ones include “restarting and expanding organized sports and activities and outdoor community camps” and reopening recreational facilities, including sports fields, swimming pools. and camping pitches.

“Ontario cannot afford to ignore the growing consequences of pandemic restrictions on the health and well-being of children and youth,” say the researchers.

Premier Doug Ford told reporters over the weekend that summer camps would be allowed to open this year, although he provided no further details.

He also did not specify whether this will include night camps or just day camps.


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