Today, Premier Ford announced the Province’s plan to safely and gradually reopen Ontario after the provincewide shutdown that came into effect on December 26th. They explained their priority is to protect our most vulnerable, keep kids in school, and keep small businesses open.
As our new case numbers have continued to trend downward throughout the past month, the Region of Halton, including the City of Burlington, will be moving back into the COVID-19 Response Framework on February 16th. The Stay at Home Order will continue for Halton until February 16th.
Toronto, Peel and York Region will not return to the Framework until February 22nd.
In addition, it was announced that the provincial emergency declared under s 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) will be allowed to terminate at the end of February 9, 2021.
I support this news for our community as we continue to collectively find an optimal balance between:
a) mitigating the spread of COVID-19 including new and more highly-contagious variants
b) supporting our hospitals and healthcare workers as they manage ICU and Acute Care bed capacities
c) managing the increasing physical and mental health impact the lockdown is having on people of all ages
d) reducing the short and long-term effects the lockdown is having on our economy, including small businesses and their employees
I, along with my fellow Halton mayors, have consistently advocated to the province throughout the pandemic to reopen our businesses and recreational opportunities when safe to do so, and with appropriate health and safety protocols in place. Those advocacy updates have been shared along the way on this blog and my social media accounts. We have supported closures where necessary to bring infection rates down, and the recent measures have worked. Our new case rates are among the lowest in the GTHA region and back to what they were last fall. That has allowed schools to reopen, and now more of the businesses and activities our community supports can follow.
We need to find a way to be “safely open with restrictions”.
I am confident that our amazing local businesses and recreational centers have taken many steps to ensure they can create environments that are safe for their employees and customers. They have leveraged Safe Restart funding and invested in training, in additional cleaning and PPE (personal protective equipment), in new processes and procedures, in expanded layouts and more. I am also confident that the good people of Burlington are willing to continue to do their part to follow the rules so that we can avoid future lockdowns and keep our friends and families safe: limiting personal gatherings (especially indoors), wearing a mask in public, washing hands and physically distancing, and staying home when sick.
I want to note that the Province has implemented a six-point plan to deal with the new variants which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of international travelers, enhanced screening and sequencing, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions
Before we entered lockdown, Halton was in the CONTROL (red) level of the Provincial COVID-19 Response Framework. We do not yet know whether we will be placed back into that same level at this time, as the Premier and his team are still closely monitoring health indicators throughout this week before making that determination. We will watch for more details on that decision and share what it means for Burlington (shops, businesses, sports, and more) as soon as we know.
Specific and updated details of the Framework can be found on the Ontario.ca website and includes updates to items such as capacity limits for in-person shopping and indoor/outdoor gatherings.
Regardless of what level we are placed in, everyone is still strongly advised by the Province to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and limit close contacts to their household. Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
The Premier made it clear that if case numbers begin to spike back up, the Province will take immediate steps to move affected areas back into stricter levels of control.
If you have additional questions about the framework or need clarification on how it may impact your business or activities, please reach out to our local MPPs’ offices for further details: MPP Jane McKenna, Burlington or MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, Oakville-North Burlington or MPP Parm Gill, Milton. If you are unsure who your local MPP is, you can use the Find My MPP tool on the provincial webpage (scroll halfway down).
You can stay informed on our COVID-19 case numbers by visiting the Halton Region dashboard. These numbers and related monitoring indicators shown on that website can help inform understanding of what level we may be placed in, and when additional restrictions may be required.
If you would like to find out more about Halton Region’s ongoing vaccine program, you can also find many details on the Halton COVID-19 Vaccine website.
You will find a wealth of information about vaccine approvals and safety, Ontario’s vaccine implementation plan, and the status of Halton’s vaccine program. Each level of government plays a role in the effective roll-out of vaccines throughout Canada (see chart at left) and the City of Burlington is ready to help these efforts by providing locations and logistics support as needed.
We know the vaccine program has many moving parts at all levels of government, including a procurement chain being managed by the Federal Government that has faced delays in recent weeks. Prime Minister Trudeau has repeatedly said that all Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September.
PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.
A consolidated page for information and updates on the work of the provincial Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is available at bit.ly/COVIDVaccineUpdates.
Halton Region has also created a dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for up to date information on the status of our COVID19 vaccination program.
A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.
To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:
- Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 905-335-7777, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online.
- Halton Region has created a Reopening Schools resource webpage for parents, students and teachers at halton.ca/covid19.
- For further COVID-19 information, including where to get tested, please visit Halton Region Public Health halton.ca/coronavirus
- Residents can stay informed at burlington.ca/coronavirus as well as on our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter and facebook.com/cityburlington
- Questions about the cancellation of Recreation programs can be directed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-335-7738
- City of Burlington: www.burlington.ca/coronavirus
- Resources for Residents & Non-Profit Organizations: www.burlington.ca/covid19resources.
- Halton Region: www.halton.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- Provincial Emergency Orders: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200052
- Government of Canada: www.canada.ca/coronavirus
- World Health Organization: www.who.int
- Joseph Brant Hospital: josephbranthospital.ca/covid-19
- Team Burlington Business Supports: burlingtonchamber.com/team-burl-supporting-burl-business-during-covid-19/
- Burlington Food Bank: call 905-637-CARE (2273), or visit burlingtonfoodbank.ca
- Food for Life: call 905-635-1106 and press 7, or visit foodforlife.ca
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Branch: call 289-291-5396, or visit halton.cmha.ca