Top pandemic researcher says COVID fatigue a daunting challenge; more than 400 anti-lockdown protesters pack Meridian Place

Barrie police handed out eight tickets to participants in an anti-lockdown rally Saturday at Meridian Place that reportedly attracted 400-500 people, in defiance of a provincial stay-at-home order.
Police had warned that stepped-up enforcement would take place, and Mayor Jeff Lehman and council had released a letter calling on protesters to stay home. The event featured People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier, who spoke out against lockdown measures like the current stay-at-home order, telling protesters they were part of an “ideological revolution.”
The protests have been a regular fixture at the downtown square since March 15, with Saturday’s event the largest one yet.
On Friday, Premier Doug Ford extended the stay-at-home order another two weeks, now totalling six weeks, citing rising COVID-19 numbers driven largely by new variants, and the impact on intensive care units.
“Those gathering in large groups, continuing to put themselves and others at risk, (should) understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be. We know that when they are followed, these measures work. They reduce mobility and they do flatten the curve. We know this because we have seen them work before. What we need now is for everyone to follow these rules,” he said.
The Province has since walked back on beefed-up police powers that would have given them the authority to stop people and ask them why they were out of residence. Playgrounds have also been reopened, but other amenities like golf courses remain closed. Restrictions include:
• Outdoor gatherings will now be strictly limited to members of a household, however anyone who lives alone can join another household
• All non-essential construction will be halted
• Capacity is being reduced at big box and grocery stores to 25 percent
• Beginning Monday, places of worship will be capped at a maximum of 10 people indoors
On Sunday, the Province reported another 4,250 cases of COVID-19, with 2,107 in hospital, an increase of 42 from the previous day. Of those, 741 are in ICUs, an increase of 15, and 506 are on ventilators, an increase of five.
As cases of COVID-19 in Ontario continue to surge, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 science table, warned Friday that growing public fatigue with measures to control the disease is becoming a daunting challenge to putting the virus in the rearview mirror.
“Our progress is both frustrating and frightening. I believe we are all feeling something similar right now, whether we are working in a hospital, a warehouse, or a restaurant – whether we are a student or retiree. Everywhere from my hometown of London, up to Ottawa, from Windsor through to Kenora, I know some of us are frustrated, some are frightened, and some of us are just fatigued,” said Brown when presenting the latest COVID-19 projections.
Under any scenario, more vaccinations mean a faster resolution to the pandemic, he added.
“Please know when it is your turn, and please get vaccinated. The vaccine protects you and it protects the people around you. And the faster we get the third wave tamped down, the faster we open up.”

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