Dr. Kit Young Hoon Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit is excited and is encouraging residents in the region to get out and enjoy what could be the first COVID-free summer in over two years.

On March 21, 2022, the mask mandate was removed in most indoor public settings, and recent COVID-19 data is showing a decrease in the virus in the region ahead of summer.

“I am hopeful too that this summer we can definitely do a lot of things we haven’t been able to do in the past, and be able to interact more with people,” said Young Hoon. “Also, take advantage of the outdoor weather knowing that is it a lower risk situation.”

In previous summers COVID-19 restrictions have limited travel, along with canceling major events, and attractions in the region.

This summer Young Hoon is encouraging people to get out and enjoy Northwestern Ontario fully without a bundle of restrictions to follow.

“We live in a beautiful part of the world and we should take advantage of it. We should make an effort to interact more outdoors. It will help to protect us from the virus in the long term.”

At this time last year, the province was in its third lockdown since the pandemic began. It came into effect on April 3, 2021, and at the time of the announcement would last four weeks.

Just thirteen days after the lockdown came into effect the province extended the stay-at-home order until at least May 20, 2021. The original end date was scheduled for May 6, 2021.

Further restrictions came into effect as well as outdoor gatherings will be limited to only those in your own household all non-essential construction will close, and all outdoor recreational areas like golf courses, basketball courts, and playgrounds will close.

Then on April 19, 2021, all inter-provincial borders began having checkpoints. Exceptions into the province were only for the transportation of goods, necessary work, or medical care.

Now, the province has removed capacity limits in all indoor public settings, along with no masks required in most indoor public settings since March 21, 2022, - a huge turn of events.

As of April 6, 2022,  the NWHU is reporting 172 cases of COVID-19 – with 120 being classified as Sioux Lookout on reserve, with 17 in Kenora, and 17 in Dryden.

The region's test positivity rate is at more of a reasonable rate of 15.3 per cent, which is below the provincial average of 17.9 per cent.