Ontario opens up: expert advice for parents as the province moves into Step 3
TORONTO -- At the Jump for Joy play centre on the Danforth, every surface is sanitized—every precaution is in place.
“We have to take a cautious approach when opening,” owner Irene Sikiotis told CTV News Toronto Wednesday. “We still have to be diligent.”
The indoor play centre sat empty for the better part of 16 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, but will finally be allowed to welcome back kids and their parents under Step 3 of the provincial re-opening framework.
“It’s a really long time coming,” Sikiotis said. “Especially for our pandemic babies.”
The centre will operate with reduced capacity limits, a masking requirement for children over two, contact tracing, sanitizing stations, and screenings—the exact measures many experts recommend parents continue to keep in mind as the province reopens.
Children under the age of 12 are too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Canada at this time and public health officials stress they need to continue taking precautions to avoid catching the virus.
“Do a sort of a risk assessment of situations where there is potential crowding and situations where there is the ability for kids to interact with other kids at more intimate levels,” Thomas Tenkate, professor with the Ryerson School of Occupational and Public Health, advised.
“Try to avoid those as much as possible, but if they can’t be avoided, have the kids wear their masks.”
Doctors also suggest keeping children’s social contacts within a reasonable number to avoid mini-outbreaks.
“As we have this group under 12 who are not vaccinated, and most adults are, we are monitoring to see if there is a shift in those transmission patterns,” Dr. Karina Top, pediatric infectious disease physician with the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, told CTV News Toronto.
“I think it’s important for people to try to protect their kids as best they can.”
Pfizer and Moderna are both conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials on children younger than 12 years old and experts are hopeful that the shots could be approved for kids in Canada before the end of this year.
Under Step 3 of Ontario’s “Roadmap to Reopen,” which comes into place on July 16, indoor dining, indoor religious services, museums, concerts, and theatres are among the services allowed to reopen with certain restrictions.