Essential services remain operational, Mayor Strathdee says
By Pat Payton
Following the lead of the Province of Ontario, the Town of St. Marys made the decision last Thursday to declare a ‘State of Emergency’ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
To date, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among St. Marys residents.
The decision was led by Mayor Al Strathdee:
“I am declaring a State of Emergency to impress upon residents the urgency and seriousness of this situation,” Strathdee stated in a press release March 19. “With a second case now confirmed in St. Marys, we all need to do our part to slow the spread of this virus. I strongly advise that all residents follow the recommendations of the Huron Perth Public Health to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.”
Declaring a State of Emergency ensures that the Town can act quickly and decisively in response to emerging issues, the mayor continued. It also offers protection to volunteers and preserves the rights of the municipality for future compensation related to this crisis.
The decision to declare a State of Emergency is the latest in a number of steps the Town has taken to encourage social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Town’s municipal offices, recreation and leisure facilities, child care centre, and train station are all closed indefinitely. The St. Marys Landfill site was closed to the public as of Friday, March 20.
“Commercial operators can still use the landfill,” Mayor Strathdee told the Independent. “We’re trying to slow the spread and contact. All municipal facilities are closed. We’re trying to make arrangements so public meetings can go ahead.”
“The State of Emergency allows us to operate more effectively, and protects our volunteers, like people who are doing Meals on Wheels. They are afforded Workers Compensation, if they were injured they’d be covered.”
“We’ve been working on an outreach program to support people. We’re going to have a system in place; we’re just working on the logistics. We’re also continuing to operate the Mobility Bus,” he added.
Essential services remain operational
Some essential services, including fire, police and paramedics, as well as garbage and recycling collection and mobility services will remain operational throughout this dire situation, the mayor noted. Municipal staff are still working and are offering limited services, where possible.
Strathdee says it’s imperative for people to do such things as “wash your hands and be careful of surfaces where (the coronavirus) can live. It can enter through your face, your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s hygiene, that’s what we are trying to impress upon people. We want them to take this serious.”
“We’re not at a critical stage, but we want to prevent what is happening in Italy. If we follow procedures, there’s a good chance we can do that. The next couple of weeks are going to tell.”
He encourages people to check the updates from the Perth County Health Unit. “They’re putting on updates all the time. And it’s understanding social distancing. You have to keep your social circle to your home.”
“We want to carry on business as usual. We’re not going to stop doing business. It’s how we do business that is going to change. That’s the big message here.”
Strathdee says council is going to practice social distancing at its meetings. “Any time people enter our facilities, they are going to be screened. There will be a list of questions. If we pay attention, there’s a good chance we can nip this in the bud.”
The Town will also be providing regular updates through its website (www.townofstmarys.com/covid19) and social media accounts (facebook.com/stmarysontario and twitter.com/townofstmarys) as this situation progresses. Residents who have questions related to the State of Emergency or municipal services can contact 519-284-2340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For tips on how to prevent the spread of illness and regular updates on COVID-19, visit Huron Perth Public Health’s website: www.hpph.ca/coronavirus.