Everyone in our community has been impacted by the global pandemic. It has been a very stressful year and the impact on our residents is immense. Children, families, seniors, grandparents, and single folks have all been affected in similar and different ways.
Council believes that our focus - as a community - must remain on getting through COVID as quickly as possible. This can be done by following the provincial guidelines and getting our vaccines as soon as possible. When we follow the guidelines, we are taking care of ourselves, our families and our community. North Grenville has been defined by kindness throughout this past year, and I am confident that this will continue.
Council acknowledges that North Grenville’s local business community has been forced to adapt and pivot their approach, more than once, in these unprecedented times. Few businesses would ever seek to operate under the unpredictable and unforeseen conditions of this past year.
Council also recognizes these extremely difficult conditions and launched a business support strategy in 2020, in an effort to supplement initiatives by other levels of government. The resilience and commitment by business leaders to our community over the past year is absolutely commendable.
We are deeply aware that for some businesses, the disruptions are untenable, and government responses only go so far. However, hosting or convening unlawful events undermines the considerable efforts of so many business leaders and community members who are also fighting hard. Everyone is doing their part to prevent further spread, despite on-going hardships.
Municipal staff have been in contact with the OPP and representatives from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit who are prepared to respond, as required, to assist Council in keeping our community safe. Since the beginning of COVID, the Municipality has been assisting both the OPP and our Health Unit, where appropriate, with education and enforcement.
The most recent Provincial Orders under the State of Emergency prevent gatherings of any size inside restaurants, on patios or in front of any establishment or residence. As such, the planned gathering at the local restaurant in Kemptville this evening compromises crucial public health protocols that our community is working hard to follow.
These public health protocols are necessary to protect our community from rising COVID-19 cases in North Grenville. Illegal gatherings, and the refusal to wear masks in the presence of others, even outdoors where a two metre distance cannot be maintained, pose an imminent threat.
NEW STRAINS OF COVID-19 ARE IN OUR COMMUNITY
Due to the increasingly virulent nature of the newer COVID strains, gatherings such as the one scheduled later today create an elevated risk.
According to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit, more people in the past week have been infected with the new strains of COVID. These COVID variants are spreading very quickly among families, and to others where there has been close contact.
Workplaces, restaurants, an athletic facility, and schools are some of the recent sites of infection in North Grenville. The higher infection rates and more contagious COVID strains in the City of Ottawa also appear to be creating risk for residents who are commuting back and forth for work.
With this in mind, Council is urging all members of our community, more than ever, to continue to adhere to public health guidelines. Stay at home as much as possible, do not invite others into your home or backyard, get tested even if you are experiencing mild symptoms at the North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre, and register for a vaccine if you are 60 and over through the provincial vaccination call centre or your family doctor.
Vaccines for those 55 and up are also available at several pharmacies outside of the community, but supplies remain low. Council fully supports expedited vaccines for all frontline essential employees, including those working in retail, health care, manufacturing, warehouse and other congregate settings, including teachers in our local schools.
Please be assured that, as Mayor of North Grenville, I am working closely with local MPP Steve Clark and Dr. Paula Stewart, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the LGL Health Unit to get as many vaccines to this area as possible as quickly as possible.
Living in these uncertain times can be quite stressful, and I urge you to continue supporting one another. We will get through this together, North Grenville. Please be vigilant and stay safe.