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Chirico clarifies lockdown restrictions

North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jim Chirico, has addressed concerns in the community over his decision to close the region’s outdoor recreation. 

Since a stay-at-home and emergency order was declared by the provincial government, the Health Unit has since closed all public outdoor skating rinks, tobogganing hills, and snowmobile trails

“The Health Unit experienced an increase of complaints related to snowmobiling, tobogganing and skating, where people were not physically distancing, were travelling from other districts and were generally not following public health measures,” said Chirico in an email.“Skating, tobogganing and snowmobiling are not essential.”

Rinks, hills and trails have remained open in some of Ontario’s hotspots such as Toronto and Ottawa. 

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Midway through January, the region has already tied its highest monthly tally of COVID-19 cases with 54.

“With just a few more admissions a week, our hospitals could easily become overwhelmed and we need to prevent this from happening,” stated Dr. Chirico. “We need to start thinking beyond ourselves and recognizing that these measures are in place to help reduce the burden on hospitals and long-term care homes locally.”

Meanwhile, schools in the region are still allowing in-person learning, which Dr. Chirico says is done so with an abundance of caution. 

“I have not restricted in-person learning due to the regulated safety measures that are in place for our students. Schools are required to ensure the safety of their students through screening, distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of face coverings. Schools are essential and many students face barriers to distanced learning. The Health Unit is monitoring schools closely and will react when required to do so,” he explained.

“School is also not a tourist attraction bringing individuals from other districts to our region,” Dr. Chirico added. 

The Health Unit is still recommending taking part in other outdoor activities where safety measures are able to be followed. 

The current lockdown measures will be in place until the end of the stay-at-home order.

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