'Can't rely on vaccines alone': SWPH's Dr. Lock asking for more physical distancing
Dr. Joyce Lock says she'll be watching the case counts and hospitalizations in the coming days to determine whether more stringent measures will have to be added in Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) region.
Eight municipalities in SWPH will see 50 per cent capacity restrictions go into effect Thursday, Dec. 2 -- St. Thomas and Woodstock -- who have high vaccination rates, but also high case counts could eventually be included.
"I'll be watching those rates very carefully over the coming weeks," said Lock, the medical officer of health for SWPH. "Usually once you institute a public health measure, you don't see the impact for two to three weeks. So we'll see what happens with these measures and if they're not stringent enough and our case counts continue to rise and our hospitals continue to see a large number of patients, we can always take another step."
Lock says restrictions are starting in those areas where there is more COVID-19 circulating because we have our higher case counts.
She added that right now, being vaccinated isn't enough to stop the spread in the community. "Whether you're vaccinated, one dose, two dose or three doses, you could still get COVID and you can still pass it on to someone else," said Lock. "Whether you're an impacted municipality or not, everyone everywhere must double down and go back to being safe by wearing a mask and physical distancing."
SWPH says the OPP and Aylmer Police Service will be enforcing the new 50 per cent capacity restrictions.
"We're going to do a measured approach again as we've done in the past," said Zvonko Horvat, the chief of police in Aylmer, Ont. "Education first, and then we'll continue on from there. It's all going to be complaint driven, so reactive calls for service that are complaint driven. Those are the ones that we'll be responding to and addressing."
CTV News London asked Horvat why they are still “educating” with the pandemic having been going on for more than a year.
"I agree with you on that," said Horvat. "This is something new for the Aylmer community and something that Southwestern Public Health Unit has imposed on us, therefore I think the educational aspect of it or first step is the appropriate response."
The OPP also says its officers will be there to support public health and bylaw by taking requests for assistance and then responding. Aylmer Police Chief Zvonko Horvat, Nov. 20, 2021. (Brent Lale / CTV News)The Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. has been notorious for not following public health guidelines.
On Tuesday, when asked if they planned to comply with 50 per cent restrictions, they reponded with “No Comment.”
If the current numbers were in place a year ago, SWPH would have been in lockdown.
Lock believes that with more vaccinated people staying out of hospitals, SWPH is in a different place than a year ago.
"Hopefully, we can flatten our curve while keeping our businesses open and allowing our citizens to enjoy this Christmas season as much as they can," said Lock. "We need to do it safely while at the same time, curtailing the number of admissions of COVID to our local hospitals."
Full details on the new restrictions are available here.