LONDON, ONT. -- Lower daily case counts and the decision to reopen schools in the region are no reason to relax the shutdown, according to the medical officer of health.

Two weeks in, pandemic-weary Londoners admit reaching the halfway point of the provincial Stay at Home Order doesn’t make the restrictions any easier.

“I like to keep people's health in the forefront of my mind, but I know its hard for businesses,” acknowledges student Gabby Schoettle.

“It’s getting a little harder, but we need to keep everybody safe,” says Mari-Lee McGuire as she walks through Wortley Village.

With a daughter who’s a first responder, McGuire says obeying the current restrictions is critical, but it’s OK to miss what we’re all going without.

“I miss eating in a restaurant, I miss being able to choose what I want to eat rather than just what’s available for pickup,” she explains.

The reopening of schools next week has some London businesses hoping for a similar regional approach to loosening restrictions in communities where case counts are declining.

However, Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie warns this is no time to let our collective guard down.

“What we’re seeing around the world is that when restrictions are lifted too early, we see numbers bounce right back up,” says Mackie. “That’s what nobody wants to see happen.”

Locally, COVID-19 daily case counts have been trending downward for two weeks, but Mackie puts this week’s average in sobering context.

“Case counts in the 40s were unheard of here even as early as November of last year. Its only since then that we’ve seen very high case counts,” he points out.

Ontario’s Stay at Home Order will be in place until at least Feb. 9.