Ontario doctor encourages people to get outdoors as stay-at-home order begins

While Ontario’s new stay-at-home order will force most people indoors for the next month, one doctor says there’s nothing wrong with a little fresh air.

“From a medical, scientific and public health standpoint, we know that outdoor environments are way safer compared to indoor environments when we look at transmission,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.

As an infectious diseases specialist and member of the province's vaccine distribution task force, Bogoch says that while there is still a chance you can catch COVID-19 while outdoors, the risk is very low.

“If people are separated by a couple metres outside, I really think the risk is negligible,” he said.

Ontario entered its second stay-at-home order on Thursday, which legally requires residents to stay indoors unless they are going out for essential purposes.

READ MORE: Ontario's stay-at-home order: Your top questions answered here

The measure was introduced as COVID-19 case numbers and their variants surge across the province and the number of patients in the ICU with the disease continues to climb to new heights.

Residents are allowed to leave their homes to get some exercise, which Bogoch believes should be encouraged during this time.

“This year has been tough enough with everything that’s been going on, I think promoting outdoor activities safely would do wonders for mental health and for physical health and of course, it aligns with sound medical and scientific principles,” he said.

Parks, baseball diamonds, and golf courses remain open with capacity limits in place during the stay-at-home order, but Bogoch says many more activities can be taken outdoors if we look to the past as a point of reference.

“Anything you move outdoors from indoors, is a step in the right direction. This isn’t new, this was done, for example, in the 1918 flu pandemic,” he said.

“There were school settings that were moved outdoors, this information has been around for a long, long time. We quickly forget our past. But this is not new.”

Bogoch says that he hopes he will see more “creativity” in the weeks ahead as people work to retool activities that are traditionally performed indoors, to an outdoor setting.