OPH board tables 2021 budget, restaurants re-opening

CITY HALL – The Ottawa Board of Health tabled their 2021 budget during the boards regularly scheduled meeting last evening (Nov. 2).

Ottawa Public Health’s budget for next year will the assume the pandemic costs for the duration of 2021. OPH is anticipating spending $23.7 million for 2021 to respond to the pandemic. This funding amount includes costs associated with things like support for schools, testing and tracing, long-term care home support, communications, etc.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches’ verbal report at the beginning of the meeting. Etches outlined the new approach OPH will be taking regarding COVID-19 which is the idea of learning to live with the virus in our community and to co-exist with COVID-19 with caution. 

Etches suggests a more balanced approach to dealing with COVID-19, with the ultimate goals continuing to be the same: to minimize hospitalizations and death while minimizing societal disruptions. She notes this new approach does not mean people should let their guard down and become complacent, but rather adjust to the fact COVID-19 will be around for the foreseeable future until a vaccine is readily available.

Restaurants, gyms to re-open

Premier Doug Ford announced today (Nov. 3) the province will be allowing the reopening of gyms, bars, indoor dining in restaurants, cinemas and performance venues in Ottawa as of Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12:01 a.m. Re-openings of these facilities will have some restrictions in place.

Also announced is the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework:  Keeping Ontario Safe & Open. This framework will ensure public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

The framework takes a gradual approach including introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings. Under this new colour-coded framework, the City of Ottawa is under the orange category.