Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said local politicians could lobby the province to reduce the COVID-19 lockdown in the area to 14 days.
“I would support our politicians, if they were to lobby for us to have a two-week lockdown period,” he said on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. He suggested local data could be reassessed after that. “If our numbers are going down, if we have good hospital bed capacity… I think we could be allowed 14 days.”
The Ontario government announced Monday that all of Ontario will be placed into a lockdown starting Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. The lockdown will extend for 28 days in southern Ontario, ending on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, and for 14 days in northern Ontario.
During the lockdown, indoor gatherings will be restricted to the household only, with outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people.
Restaurants must close in-person dining, and non-essential retail will be reduced to curbside pickup or delivery only. Personal care services, tour and guide services, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments, museums and cultural amenities must close. When the school break ends on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, students will resume online learning rather than return to class.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford explained during a press conference Monday that the province-wide approach was taken to discourage intraprovincial travel, from areas of lockdown to areas of low transmission.
Dr. Moore said he would prefer to see travel restrictions put in place for people in areas with a heavier burden of illness.
“Certainly the GTA has very high rates. They need Public Health measures to limit the spread and they need to have travel restrictions,” he said. He said 28 days counts as two incubation periods of the virus, and will allow officials in hard-hit regions to get a handle on how the virus is spreading.
Locally, in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region, he said 14 days gives constituents the opportunity to show good adherence to Public Health requirements, get case numbers down even further, and allows for “data-driven decision making.”
Dr. Moore to provincial authorities: ‘Restrict travelling’
Dr. Moore said, he along with 33 other regional Medical Officers of Health in Ontario, were consulted by the province ahead of the lockdown announcement.
“My feedback was to please have a regional approach, please try to restrict travelling, please keep the school system open, and do our best to preserve local small business and local economies,” he said. “It was a consultative process. I was happy that they at least consulted local Public Health.”
He noted that Ford has requested people restrict themselves to essential travel only. “It really has to be work related or life-and-death related,” Dr. Moore said.
However he added that travellers can still move from high-risk areas to other regions if they want to. “There’s nothing to stop them now, which is what’s bothersome to me… Right now, the Premier has been very forceful in words, saying essential travel only, but there’s no means of enforcing it.”
Locally, Dr. Moore said he expects to see KFL&A Public Health’s case numbers continue to decline, barring the discovery of any new outbreaks.
“There are six new cases [so far] today,” he said. “They are part of the group that are already quarantining, and there is no risk from those cases to the community. Those six new cases were already known, already in quarantine, and already knew how they were connected to other outbreaks. We are in a good position in KFL&A despite high active case counts and the rates are on their way down.”
“We are finding the cases that need to be counted, contacting those individuals and tracing the spread,” he added.