Coronavirus: Experts wary of ‘out-of-towners’ as Ontario starts second phase of reopening

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Ontario’s shift to regionally reopen the province has its benefits, experts say, but they’re concerned that messaging about who can do what — and where — might cause issues down the road.

“Not only is a regional plan the right idea, it’s always been the right idea,” said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“There was never any evidence from any jurisdiction in Ontario to suggest that the entire province should move together.”

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The vast majority of the province has been given the green light to move into the next stage on June 12, but the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and other regions will need to wait.

Of Ontario’s 34 public health units, 24 will be allowed to reopen things like hair and beauty salons, campgrounds, public swimming pools and splash pads and shopping malls, all under existing public health protocols and restrictions.

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The remaining 10, primarily the GTHA and those near the U.S.-Canada border, will need to record an improvement in daily case numbers before moving on.

Furness believes the messaging surrounding Phase 2 has already been muddled and worries it will lead to an exodus of residents from closed regions to open ones.

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