Did five-day notice of impending lockdown do more harm than good?

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The five-day notice of an impending province-wide lockdown could have increased the movement of people across different regions leading up to Christmas.

That's according to The Toronto Star, which exclusively obtained mobility data that shows health units with some of the highest increases in post-holiday COVID-19 infection rates also had some of the province's highest rates of movement over the holidays.

The Star spoke with risk communications expert Dr. Jody Lanard, about the advance notice given about the lockdown.

“The few days before the lockdown … did the most damage of all the weeks leading up to Boxing Day,” Lanard said. “It was a big mistake to say, ‘Pretty please don’t gather for Christmas, but the day after Christmas, we’re putting down the sledgehammer.’ ”

Some of the biggest jumps in active case rates post-Boxing Day include Eastern Ontario, York, Niagara, Middlesex-London, and Ottawa, the Star reports.

But in southwestern Ontario units like Lambton, Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, some of the biggest spikes were noted. These areas also had the province's highest mobility rates over the week of Christmas.

In the week leading up to Boxing Day, the Star reports, more than 101,500 residents in Toronto, Peel and York, visited five malls in the Halton and Durham regions.

More than half of the last-minute Christmas shoppers in Pickering Town Centre and the Halton Hills outlet were made up of people from already locked down regions.

Compared to the same week last year, the Oshawa Centre saw a 155 per cent increase in shoppers from Toronto.