Despite five new cases of COVID-19 being found across the region over the last week, northwestern Ontario is still moving ahead with tomorrow’s reopening plans.

Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Ian Gemmill, explains that despite the new cases, the region is still in a great position to reopen.

“We want to get things back to as normal as possible. It makes sense to me to reopen where the activity has been really low, and we are really at the lowest of the low when it comes to the number of cases of the disease. There isn’t evidence of local, ongoing transmission.”

Yesterday afternoon, the health unit confirmed two more positive cases of COVID-19 in the Kenora area, bringing northwestern Ontario’s total number of cases to 27, with 22 of them considered as resolved. Last weekend saw the health unit confirm 3 new cases, with 2 of them in the Kenora Jail.

“We have to do it sometime. I think that the places that don’t have much activity are the right places to do it. We have a COVID-19 pandemic that’s very active in southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, and it’s been under control elsewhere. So let’s try it out.”

Premier Doug Ford announced earlier this week that parts of the province, including northwestern Ontario, would be allowed to move into phase 2 of Ontario’s reopening framework, effective as of June 12 at 12:01 a.m.

These lessened restrictions include increasing the limit on social gatherings from 5 to 10 people, all places of worship will open with capacity and physical distancing measures, and a number of businesses will be allowed to reopen.

“The key here, what we have to be smart about, is that we monitor extremely carefully to see the result of what each of these reopening actions take. So we would know what to advise in other areas, and how to fine-tune what has been decided for the area,” Gemmill stressed.

- Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

- Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
- Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
- Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
- Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
- Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
- Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
- Camping at private campgrounds;
- Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
- Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
- Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing;
- Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

For more information:
Two new COVID-19 cases in Kenora area
Premier details regional changes for NW Ontario