Finally, Premier Doug Ford can indeed honestly say he listened to the scientific and medical experts. Let's hope he was not too late in coming to that epiphany.
In announcing on Wednesday that he is turning back the clock to January and enacting stay-at-home orders across the province, Ford is doing what a multitude of experts have been urging for weeks.
The half-baked stutter steps instituted last week (and previously) – an “emergency brake” allowing all retailers to remain open but telling people only to go out for essentials – did not work.
Malls were packed as thousands of people took advantage of the opportunity to pick up some essentials. And other “stuff.”
We saw it first-hand here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Queen Street didn't quite look as busy as it does on a sunny July weekend, but it was packed with visitors.
Easter Sunday brought hordes of visitors who, as Lord Mayor Betty Disero notes, seem to be tired, fed up and had enough of the on-again, off-again lockdowns that have been Ontario's haphazard strategy for trying to balance economics with public health.
But before we all go off angry at the “damn visitors from Toronto” coming to town, that is not always the case. On the previous weekend, the Bell Mobility data available to the municipality shows 75 per cent of visitors were from within Niagara Region. So they stayed within their region, technically.
Bell data for this past Saturday and Sunday was not available, but the town counted 9,163 vehicles entering Old Town, a lot, but nowhere near the 22,500 that visited one weekend last May.
As well, we should consider our own collective contribution to the influx of people. We have no data to support it, but anecdotally, we do know that many NOTLers – also tired and fed up with lockdowns, and not seeing family members or grandchildren – hosted friends or relatives over the holiday weekend.
Perhaps they were all from Niagara Region.
So, here we are. It's January in April and we are all supposed to stay home while the vaccine rollout continues unabated, thankfully, and the public health system tries to flatten the curve of escalating COVID cases, especially the nasty variants that are now dominating.
We implore everyone to heed the science, to #StayHome, only go out for essentials, get vaccinated as soon as possible – and be kind and tolerant of one another.
This stay-at-home medicine is tough on our economy – especially small businesses that rely on area residents for their livelihood. So, take every opportunity to keep obtaining your essentials from local operators. Please continue to support our struggling small businesses.
We have weathered more than 12 months of this pandemic. It's been difficult on many levels and we have repeatedly seen the consequences of reopening too soon. Or shutting down too late.
Surely, in the interests of the greater good, we can withstand a few more weeks of tough love.