People lined up outside of store in Toronto on November 22, 2020 to do some shopping before a partial lockdown was imposed the day after. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Nurses call Ontario action on COVID-19 too late, insufficient

The government of the province of Ontario has imposed a partial lockdown for Toronto and the nearby Peel region and nurses say it is not enough. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is calling for “an aggressive and all-encompassing lockdown” that it calls a “COVID-ZERO” strategy.

Ontario’s government measures include limiting shopping to curbside pick-up, closing gyms, hair salons and banning dining in restaurants in favour of takeout. But the nurses say there were no measures for places of worship or to prevent people from travelling from one region to another and carrying the virus with them. While big-box stores remain open, there was no measure to close non-essential sections of the store and nurses worry about the effect of that on small businesses that compete in selling non-essentials.

Schools opened in Toronto in September 2020 but there is no universal requirement for students to wear masks. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Not enough done about schools, say nurses

The nurses’ association agrees that schools should stay open, but argues that not enough has been provided them to ensure physical distancing, proper ventilation and adequate support for educators. Masks are not universally required in schools.

The nurses are concerned that the virus is one again raging and claiming lives in long-term care facilities and is worried about the effects of the pandemic on those with mental health issues.

Half measures will renew cycle of spikes, say nurses

They argue that half-measures will only mean there will eventually be another spike in infections and the cycle of lock-downs and easing of restrictions will continue.

The nurses say they and other health-care providers are working under enormously stressful and exhausting conditions.

They are calling on the government to toughen the lockdown and on all citizens to do their part to contain the virus. This includes staying at home, minimizing interactions with others, washing hands, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and avoiding crowded places and social events beyond one’s own household.

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