Crate, Sanderson & Martin weigh in on local reaction
Big blow to sidewalk cafés and patio operations
Article by Bill Hornbostel
Citing the spread of more dangerous COVID-19 variants, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared on Thursday, April 1 that the entire Province would head into a new lockdown on Saturday, April 3. “With these new variants, the risk of ICU admissions is two times higher. The risk of death is one and a half times higher…. We’re now seeing a nearly 14% increase in hospitalizations, with COVID-19 patients in ICU increasing dramatically,” said Ford, who went on to talk about efforts to combat the disease, such as increasing the number of available hospital beds and the rollout of vaccines.
Health Minister Christine Elliot stated what this means for the entire province. She said, “This means restricting indoor organize public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, and limiting the capacity for outdoor events to a maximum of five people. Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.”
Elliot laid out other restrictions: reduced retail shopping limits (50% pharmacies and groceries, 25% for all other retail); prohibiting personal care and fitness services; prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining; limiting weddings, funerals, and religious services to 15% capacity. More details of the “emergency brake” shutdown are available on the province’s website: news.ontario.ca/en/release/60986/ontario-implements-provincewide-emergency-brake.
Northumberland County Warden Bob Crate, in a statement about the shutdown announcement, said that “schools and daycares will remain open, however time-limited public health and workplace safety measures will be imposed on other activities to combat this aggressive virus and save lives.”
“At this time, the County Emergency Control Group has determined that there will be no additional changes to County programs and services,” continued Crate. “The processes we currently have in place to protect staff and members of the public are in compliance with the new measures announced by the Province, and will ensure ongoing business continuity as we continue to deliver the essential municipal services on which our community relies.”
Cramahe Mayor Mandy Martin responded to the announcement by saying, “Cramahe Township businesses, citizens and industries have been resilient and remarkably adaptive, doing their best to support one another’s enterprises — and personal situations. One of the strengths of a smaller municipality is our ability to change quickly to meet sudden, unusual situations. We know what it takes to come through, together.”
Martin added, “Even as this latest shut-down was being announced, Cramahe Township managers met to establish how operations and services will be provided. Again, we adapt. We are committed to serve our citizens to the best of our abilities in challenging times.”
For Northumberland communities like Port Hope and Cobourg, whose Councils had recently passed measures to allow sidewalk patios to open early in the season to help struggling restaurants, this comes as a blow. Port Hope Mayor, in a press release, said, “The Provincial announcement placing all of Ontario into the Emergency Brake is disappointing, but we have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in our own community recently and these measures are understandably required. Fortunately, we can still enjoy some time outdoors this spring, so long as we’re adhering to the physical distancing measures of at least two meters. The next few weeks are crucial, and we must all contribute to the solution by staying close to home and keeping our loved ones safe.”
Port Hope also had some Ganny Weekend activities for residents slated for April 8-11. Jeannie Maidens, Events Coordinator for Port Hope, responded to this turn of events. “We encourage the residents of Port Hope to honor the Ganny program safely from their homes,” she said. “You can still submit a Ganny memory to the online form. You could support a local business through takeout or curbside pickup, you could take a moment to review the Ganaraska flood history or create the raft craft with the family. And everybody should stay safe. Heed all advice issued by the Provincial government and hang in there – we’ll get through it.”
Ford also announced that the Province would provide extra financial support for affected businesses through the Ontario Small Business Support Grants, which provide up to $20,000 for eligible businesses. Extending the deadline for applications to April 7, Ford added, “We’re providing another $1.7 billion for a second round of payments to help our small businesses. That means up to $40,000 for eligible businesses.” For more information, you may visit the program website, app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/.
Ford, Elliot, and Chief Officer of Medical Health Dr David Williams answered questions from reporters by phone. To a question about how this shutdown will help “one iota” in preventing the spread of COVID-19, Williams responded, “We’re seeing that… all of a sudden, areas that were very quiet for a long time are blowing up with cases as people from the high-risk areas go out and obtain services and things and not adhering to the stay local, stay around your own area and not go out.”
“Our lockdowns have worked,” continued Williams, citing successes in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Lambton. He spoke about the extended lockdown in Toronto and Peel, saying, “And that’s been a very strong strength of ours in Toronto and Peel for the last three to four months, where it could have gone and really imploded extensively and kept them down.”
For more information COVID-19 and Ontario’s response to the pandemic, you may visit the provincial website, covid-19.ontario.ca.