KITCHENER -- The top doctor for the Guelph area said she believes her community is ready to move into "phase three" of Ontario’s reopening plan as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we are,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

Dr. Mercer says it’s an important to continue moving forward with measures to reopen the economy.

“I think it’s really important; economic health as well as health in general, they’re very closely linked,” she said during an interview Friday afternoon on the CTV News at Five.

“Health and income are very tied … so I think it’s important that we continue to try to open, but do so in a way that continually reminds people that this is not a normal, this is going to a new normal of opening.”

Dr. Mercer said things won't return to normal as the province moves forward with its reopening plan.
“Until we get that vaccine or until we get that treatment, we’re going to all – each and every one of us as a society – practice differently, because by me practicing well and keeping others safe, we’re keeping our businesses open, we’re keeping everyone employed, and we’re keeping everyone in our population healthy," she said.

No timelines have been established for stage three, but on Friday, Premier Doug Ford hinted that it’s coming soon.

He cautioned that they won’t be rushed into a decision, however.

“We’ll get there. We’ll get there very shortly,” Ford said.

He added the provincial health team wants to make sure COVID-19 numbers continue to decline to a level that leaves the experts are feeling comfortable.

Stage three will allow all workplaces to reopen, and will relax some other measures.
"Since it’s going to be the last stage that our t’s are crossed and our i’s are dotted, and that we’re keeping everyone safe," Ford said.


Dr. Mercer said her team is working to gather hard evidence about the effectiveness of the public health order mandating the wearing of face coverings inside businesses in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

However, she said on Friday that anecdotal reports her team has collected suggest “high levels” of wearing masks and face covering among the population.

She added that continued compliance with public health measures is the responsibility of both workplaces and the general population.

Dr. Mercer said the case counts and virus reproduction rates locally are encouraging, but cautions that a second wave of COVID-19 is anticipated this fall. She said vigilance, even in the event of a phase three reopening, will be paramount.

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit has 487 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday. There are 37 active cases in the region and 37 people have died from the virus.