Local COVID numbers spike in April

By Charlie Senack

The rate of COVID-19 infections around Manotick in April were higher than at any other point during the pandemic, shows data released by the Ottawa Neighborhood Study.

Manotick reported a total of 65 new COVID-19 cases in April 2021, with another 60 in Greely and 57 in Richmond. North Gower-Kars reported 19 cases and Osgoode-Vernon reported 14. The neighbouring community of Riverside South also reported a high number of new COVID-19 infections at 133.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Manotick has reported 164 COVID-19 cases and Greely has reported 191. Richmond has reported 163 cases of the virus; North Gower-Kars has reported 59; and Osgoode-Vernon has reported 56.

On Thursday, May 20, Ontario Premier Doug Ford alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott announced a new three-step framework for the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one which isn’t expected to begin until June 14, would allow all non-essential retail stores to re-open their doors at 15 per cent capacity. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, and outdoor dining, with up to four people per table, will also be allowed to resume. Campgrounds, provincial parks, and outdoor pools would also be able to open. Ontario will need to have at least 60 per cent of the eligible population to be vaccinated with at least one dose for this to come into effect.

Phase two and three which would allow larger gatherings and more people in businesses won’t come into effect for at least another three weeks, meaning the full plan won’t be rolled out until mid August at the earliest.

As of Saturday, May 22, outdoor gatherings of up to five people will be allowed, and all outdoor amenities including: driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks, can open, alongside golf courses. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted.

The water at Ottawa splash pads was turned on last week, but the city had to quickly shut them down and delay reopening until Phase 1 of the province’s reopening plan begins. Many parents in the community were disappointed by this news with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius with the humidex.

It’s also still unclear if schools in Ontario will reopen before the summer break. Premier Doug Ford said during his press conference that even top health officials are divided on the issue. Some feel we are in a safe enough spot for a return to in-person classes, whereas others feel it’s not worth the risk with only a few weeks of school left on the calendar. Recent modelling has shown that if students returned to in-person learning now, cases in the province would most likely rise by 11 per cent — a risk the premier does not want to take.