Top Sault doctor urges caution during phase 2 reopening
SAULT STE. MARIE -- With parts of Ontario moving to phase 2 of reopening, a top doctor at the Sault Area Hospital is reminding residents to remain diligent and cautious during the pandemic.
At midnight on Friday, the Ford government loosened restrictions across most of the province, including northern Ontario as a whole.
That includes allowing for social gatherings of ten people, partial reopening of places of worship, and things like outdoor dining, hair salons and shopping malls to be permitted.
"From an infectious disease standpoint, really not much has changed, the same rules still apply," said Dr. Lucas Castellani, Infectious Disease Control Specialist at the Sault Hospital.
"People still should be wearing masks, keeping two metres apart, really practicing all the safety restrictions that have been implemented for months now."
Asked whether or not he would be willing to visit a patio this weekend, Dr. Castellani says it would depend.
"If that restaurant is doing everything it can to implement physical distancing and its servers are wearing masks, then I absolutely would feel comfortable making that decision," he said.
"However, I'd have to make that decision every time, evaluate the risks involved and I think everyone should be doing exactly the same."
For the most part, Dr. Castellani says Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District have done exceptionally well in adhering to physical distance guidelines.
However, he says it's evident that attitudes are easing a bit.
"I'd certainly caution against that," he said.
"I think it's clear people have adjusted to this new normal and are feeling comfortable, but we know this can change rapidly at any time."
Another concern of Castellani's is for those in the GTA and Toronto, who have not entered phase 2, to travel to northern Ontario and possibly spread the virus.
While southern Ontarians typically travel to closer places, like Muskoka, he says there's more than enough in northern Ontario to attract visitors.
"The good thing is that the majority of activities they can do up here, is in big open spaces," he said.
"We don't know for sure that transfer of the virus is hindered through open air, but most of the signs are pointing to that being the case."