Medical Officer of Health is in an awkward situation: Advises us to limiting close contact to those within the household but makes no comment on dining in restaurants.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2020



Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health wrote media earlier this week setting out and explaining why she asked the public to trim how they send their time and the places where they gather with other people.

“I appreciate the inquiries from the media and working together to ensure the public is informed in a timely manner. Through this statement, I am hoping to address your questions and provide a consistent message to you and the public.”

She is in an awkward situation.

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health

She urged residents to “take additional steps to stop the spread, including limiting close contact to those within their household and limiting non-essential activities. I also recommended that team sports be limited to training only, that all indoor fitness classes be suspended, and that indoor dining take place only with those from the same household.”

But there was no word on restaurants – is it safe to have lunch at the places we like to dine?

The damage done to the hospitality sector is severe. They are hurting and that is very unfortunate. The city set up a grant program to help cover the additional costs of PPE. $2500.00 was available but there wasn’t enough money to give everyone that asked that amount.  $2500 doesn’t go very far.

The relaxation of restrictions and individual attention to public health measures over the summer has led to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, creating a concerning upward trend this fall. Although daily COVID-19 case counts fluctuate in Halton and elsewhere, the overall trends in Halton remain concerning.

The numbers province-wide are discouraging and if the current direction of the trend line holds winter is going to be very dark.

The development of a vaccine is being advanced – despite what that nut case south of us is saying the best date that is being published from reliable sources is maybe May of 2021.

“Public Health Units across the province have been working 24/7 to keep people safe and stop COVID-19 and we will continue that important work. Public Health Units will also continue to provide information to the Province daily on trends.

“Every individual action matters and can make a difference. Thank you to everyone for staying in this together, taking this seriously and above all for being kind and respectful of one another.”

The kid glove words from the MoH, who has been doing a very good job, fall a little short of the mark.

The Regional Public Health organizations now have very sophisticated tracking software.  What the public would like to see is:

Where are people getting infected?

Metrolinx - cleaning arm rest #1

GO train coaches get a scrub down at the end of each trip – mask wearing is not an option

At work?

While using public transit?

In restaurants?

At supermarkets?

The Public Health people know who has been infected.  The number of those infected based on a percentage of those tested is climbing – and that is not a good sign.

That 1042 number last Sunday was a shocker.  It has hovered in the 800 level since then yet the Mayors from the four municipalities in the Regions wrote the Premier and the Provincial Medial Officer of Health pleading not to be moved back into a Stage 2.

Would they prefer another solid lock down?

Everything we have seen and heard of Dr. Meghani backs up the reputation as a very proficient professional with a kind heart.

A little sternness in her voice could be used right now.

Hopefully she is working on the message she is probably going to have to give for the Christmas season.


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8 comments to Medical Officer of Health is in an awkward situation: Advises us to limit close contact to those within the household but makes no comment on dining in restaurants.

  • David Barker

    Parts or all of France and Germany are in full lickdown as the virus gets out of control. Melbourne Australia went into a prolonged lockdown after it got out of control there. Now it has no infections! It seems the UK will be following suit.

    So do we really think our ockeyed half measures are going to work.

    Come on all levels of government. Smarten up to the harsh reality.

  • Perryb

    Meanwhile, the casinos are running full ahead. Writers in the Gazette regularly promote gambling. What am I missing?

  • Greg

    Indoor dining, bars, and movie theatres need to close. Gyms are high risk, but have benefits.

    If we don’t shut some things down we will have to shut everything down. It’s not a calculation of these businesses in particular. They will be shut down one way or another. The question is will the whole Province have to shut down?

    $1 now or $10 later.

    MMW has played her cards as a true blue conservative. If Conservative, she should show some fiscal responsibility. Since Covid started she cut services but not costs. The private sector got hammered while she collected our money and did nothing with it. Now she asks the private sector to stay open while keeping the City on idle? MMW needs to go as Mayor. Her record before Covid was mostly happy talk and little action. Her record since Covid has been awful. She had not shown the ability to lead or manage.

    • David Barker

      WOW. You seem to be a over the place. Shut down bars and restaurants, but not high risk gyms, because they have benefits? What’s the benefit? They spread the virus better than do bars and restaurants?

      I would think you are probably the first to have accused the Mayor of being a conservative!

      You’re right though it is $1 now or $10 later. Both in economic terms and in deaths/infections.

      In my view the Mayor and the Emergency Committee have done an excellent job in leading the City through this mess. Though I was disappointed with the recent interjection as regards a potential roll vack to stage 2. It goes without saying nobody wants any business to suffer
      economic harm but the health of all Ontarians is paramount along with destroying the virus.

      Half measures always get crapy results!

  • Gil

    I’m just going to leave this here:

    The province health officials are also indicating that the recent spike in cases is likely linked to Thanksgiving and family gatherings. Another story down in Windsor-Essex County where a person was fined for hosting a party with more than 50 people.

    So it’s private gatherings that seem to be the driving factor, but oh no, let’s continue to blame small businesses, bars and restos as the cause of the increase and force them to close.

  • David Barker

    The encouragement by the Premier recently to the mayors within the GTA to write to their MPPs to voice against a roll back to stage 2 (modified or not) has politicized the pandemic. To that point in time it seemed Ford had been acting in the best interests of the health of Ontarians based upon advice from the Province’s medical officers of health.

    Going back to earlier levels of lockdown is nobody’s number one choice. But how many deaths or people infected or others impacted by this hideous virus do our mayors and MPPs feel is acceptable just so a restaurant or a gym or a church can stay open.

    Mayors, MPPs step back and allow the doctors and scientists to guide us all.

  • Penny Hersh

    Listen to the Health professionals, NOT the politicians.

    People stay home, it is not necessary to go to restaurants and expose yourself and others to a virus that does not discriminate. If you must go to gyms, wear a mask when exercising. If you can’t wear a mask while exercising choose a different exercise.

    To help small businesses survive order food from restaurants and pick it up. Many clothing stores now offer scheduled appointments ( Joelle’s for one). Pick good times to go grocery shopping, and shop only in stores where disinfecting is still taking place ( many have stopped doing this).

    If people wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid social gatherings we can slow the spread and hopefully return to some sense of normalcy in the future.

    If we don’t, I think we will be in some sort of lockdown for a longer period of time.

    Peoples’ future is in their hands.

  • “indoor dining take place only with those from the same household.”. I’d interpret that to mean, unless people from your household are the only people in the restaurant, that it is not considered safe to eat indoors at a restaurant.

    It looks like Public Health officials in the province have given up on the idea of forced compliance, and decided to rely on citizens employing their better judgement. The more people push back against exercising that judgement, (looking specifically at MPP Oosterhoff), the more likely that the future response needed to get the virus under control will have to be even more harsh.

    If going back to Stage 2 now prevents us from having to shut the entire economy down at Christmas, we should not hesitate to move back to Stage 2 immediately. This wishy-washy response since numbers started climbing in August is just prolonging the agony for small businesses and entrepreneurs all over the province. Full scale contact tracing, widely available testing and limiting non-essential contact with others are the proven methods of getting things going again. Spending a few hundred million now to bolster these capabilities now will ultimately prevent tens of billions in losses over the next year.