Eastern Ontario top doc concerned about people gathering in large groups during pandemic

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As the temperatures warm up and residents look to enjoy the summer weather, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s top doctor admits he is worried about people gathering in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says one of the region’s top summer destinations, Calypso Water Park, will remain closed “until further notice” due to the physical distancing measures.

Pictures showed thousands of people at a Toronto park on Saturday, ignoring physical distancing rules and disobeying the Ontario Government’s emergency order banning gatherings of more than five people.

Speaking on “Ottawa at Work” on Newstalk 580 CFRA Monday morning, host Leslie Roberts asked Dr. Roumeliotis if he was worried about it happening here.

“Yes I am, I am quite worried,” Dr. Roumeliotis said Monday morning.

“People have to understand – it’s very simple. The more people congregate and don’t respect physical distancing, the more the virus will be in our community and the more it will affect the vulnerable.”

Dr. Roumeliotis says there is nothing wrong with people going out as long as they remember physical distancing guidelines and remain six feet apart from people outside your household.

Beaches and public pools remain closed across the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region, which includes Cornwall, Casselman, Alexandria, Hawkesbury and Rockland.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says there is no appetite from municipal politicians in the area to close parks and marinas to the public.

“If we do see, however, there’s abuse of social gatherings numbers or a lot of people not respecting those, we will not hesitate to send Bylaw in or enforcement in to at least educate, and ticket them if necessary,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.

“I don’t like to do that. I would hope that people have some common sense and it doesn’t come to that.”

Roberts asked Dr. Roumeliotis about people travelling to Calypso Water Park this summer from other parts of Ontario and Quebec.

“It’s closed until further notice, it’s under my jurisdiction,” said Dr. Roumeliotis, adding it’s “not on the table” for Calypso to open in the next month or so.

“I’ve actually spoken to the President (of Calypso), and they’ve got a plan that should we be able to open part of it, they will adhere to it.”

Dr. Roumeliotis says he’s “impressed” with Calypso’s plan to reopen the park and to encourage physical distancing at the park, but concedes it will be tough to practice physical distancing in the park when it opens.