There’s a “bit of hope” that life could start returning to normal soon. One month after asking Canadians to stay at home and avoid non-essential trips, health officials are starting to consider the end of social distancing. According to Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, it’s “very important” to relax restrictions as soon as possible.

It’s been around one month since Canada’s provinces and territories were first introduced to physical distancing, and Ottawa's officials are already beginning to consider how and when COVID-19 restrictions can be eased-up.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health explained, “There are hopeful signs that we are doing things that are effective, and the more we can maintain that for a couple of weeks, hopefully we can see a decrease in the hospitalizations.”

According to Etches, Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa, and upper levels of government are already looking ahead to when and how the current conditions can be relaxed.

While Dr. Etches didn't provide a timeframe for restrictions to be lifted, she confirmed that officials are talking “about the end” of physical distancing, to be able to give Ottawans a bit more freedom.

“It’s very important to relax the restrictions as soon as we can and we’ll be working towards that,” she explained.

Dr. Etches also said that officials will want to hear from the public about their priorities for relaxing COVID-19 requirements.

Until then, however, Dr. Etches confirmed that we must continue to practice social distancing as usual.

“You should stay home except for going out for essential reasons” she confirmed, adding that grocery shopping, helping family or friends, and exercising are all acceptable activities.

She noted that before rules are relaxed, health officials need to be certain that hospitals will be able to cope, and that testing will be able to continue.

Etches’ comments follow a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week, in which he warned Canadians to be prepared to continue staying at home for “weeks.”

Trudeau confirmed that the federal government was having “ongoing discussions” with Canada’s provinces, but noted that “different regions of the country are at different places along the evolution of their COVID-19 curve.”

“Those discussions are ongoing about how we’re going to open up the economy, it’s just that it’s going to be a while, still,” he concluded.

On Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed that students would not be returning to class on May 4, despite initial plans.

“There’s a bit of hope that we’re going to start to talk about how do we relax some of these restrictions,” Dr. Etches concluded on Wednesday.

While nothing is certain just yet, a “little bit of hope” is good enough for now!

As of Thursday, Ottawa had 643 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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