As the COVID-19 restrictions are eased, an infectious disease expert is recommending using a face mask while sitting on a patio and socialize with your social bubble outside as much as possible.
Bar and restaurant patios were allowed to reopen on Friday in Ottawa and eastern Ontario as the region entered Stage 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan.
During CTV News at Six, anchor Stefen Keyes asked Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Queen’s University Division of Infectious Diseases, if masks should be the new normal for pubs and clubs.
“I don’t think there’s any question there’s a role for masks,” said Dr. Evans.
“Masks when combined with a lot of the other measures that we have, including physical distancing and restricting some socialization events, is going to be important.”
Dr. Evans adds, “If there’s a large gathering of young people that can happen in night clubs, bars, etc., then even masks and utility of masks can drop off significantly. So I think my view is that we need to maintain a lot of the physical distancing measures and we have to be very careful with reopening places where young people in particular can congregate.”
Dr. Evans says young people are the ones that have been “struggling with this restricted socialization” that were part of the COVID-19 restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Ottawa Public Health recommends people wear a face mask when physical distancing is not possible.
On Friday, the Ontario Government allowed people to gather in groups of 10, and form social bubbles of up to 10 people where physical distancing measures are not necessary.
“My view would be that I think it’s reasonable to start to socialize a bit more, perhaps with close friends who you’re familiar with and who you can trust that they’re going to tell you if they’re sick or not,” said Dr. Evans.
“Gathering in smaller groups, particularly outside, is a reasonable strategy. We know that transmission in an outside environment, as compared to indoors, is substantially less.”
Concerns about COVID-19 restrictions relaxed
Dr. Evans admits he’s “worried” about the possibility of COVID-19 spreading following the “rapid” change to the COVID-19 restrictions.
On Friday, malls, barber shops, salons and bar and restaurant patios were allowed to reopen with physical distancing measures in place. Ontario is also allowing people to gather in groups of up to 10 people, and create social bubbles with another household.
Anchor Stefan Keyes notes the ByWard Market went from a ghost town to bustling overnight, and should we be concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
“Well certainly worried. There are problems that the virus still continues to circulate in our communities, but that kind of rapid dropping of social distancing measures is not a good thing,” said Dr. Evans.
“It could mean either a continued extension of this first wave with a resurgence (of cases), or certainly bodes well for a second wave if we get to the point where the number of cases reported is dropped to zero.”
Dr. Evans recommends people continue to practice physical distancing as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.