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The August long weekend marked the city’s first official weekend in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, and Toronto’s top doctor says she was impressed by what she witnessed.
Speaking during the city’s press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa thanked residents of Toronto “for doing their part to keep each other safe in our first weekend of Stage 3.”
“I was pleased to see people moving around our city these past few days, out there on their bikes, walking around with smiles on their faces,” she said.
“I noticed others physically distanced on neighbourhood patios. Many residents were also doing their part by wearing their masks as they went about their days. There is certainly more energy and more life in our city thanks to your efforts over these past months. Your actions will also help to keep us moving forward.”
Enjoy time outdoors but please remember to be careful and always practise #PhysicalDistancing. Stay 2 metres (6 ft) away from others. Think about the length of a bicycle. Help stop the spread of #COVID19: https://t.co/BaAizAgCsJ pic.twitter.com/FcAUSr0mKc
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) August 5, 2020
She added that Torontonians’ actions over the past few months have played an important role in the steady case numbers we’ve seen recently, with just 19 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the city today.
But Dr. de Villa added that, based on what’s currently happening in other jurisdictions — some of which initially experienced low or no COVID-19 activity — we know we will likely see a spike in cases as a result of reopening at some point.
“As I’ve shared before, we are expecting to see more COVID-19 activity in our city as we reopen. While our numbers are holding steady, this doesn’t mean we won’t see an uptick in COVID-19 in our city,” she warned.
“These increases don’t happen overnight. It can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms after being exposed to the virus, and then testing needs to be done before the positive results are then reported to Public Health and reflected in our numbers. This is why it is critical that we keep monitoring our numbers closely over the next few weeks to see how our reopening is impacting virus spread.”
She said she’s also received numerous questions about the province’s expanded gathering limits, which allow for gatherings of 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors as long as social distancing is maintained.
“At this time, we need to think differently about how to plan and organize social events,” she noted, explaining that anyone planning any kind of gathering should consider the amount of space in the venue as well as limit the number of guests to make sure physical distancing is possible.
Dr. de Villa also encouraged people to download the new COVID-19 alert app, which notifies users if they have come into close contact with another user in the past 14-days who has tested positive for the virus.
I just downloaded the COVID Alert app. This is an action we can all take to protect our city & help stop the spread of #COVID19 as more businesses & workplaces reopen in our city. Please keep taking care of each other & #StaySafe. Download it here: https://t.co/cD0zJhZgro pic.twitter.com/2pQGSdM9UQ
— Dr. Eileen de Villa (@epdevilla) August 2, 2020
“We must continue to maintain our social bubble of no more than 10 people with whom we may have close contact, keep six feet from people who are not in our social bubble, continue to use a mask in indoor public settings and when we cannot maintain physical distance outdoors, wash our hands often, and stay home if we are sick,” she emphasized.
“These actions, along with our other public health measures, have helped us to safely reopen parts of our city so we can have safer social connections with our friends and our loved ones, which we all need for our well-being. They’re also helping to restart critical local economic activity. Taken altogether, they will keep us moving forward as safely as possible.”