Province Declares State of Emergency and Issues Stay-At-Home Order
For Immediate Release
CENTRAL ELGIN, ON – On January 12, 2021, the Province of Ontario declared a second provincial emergency under s. 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). This was in response to cases of COVID-19 in the province doubling over the past two weeks, and to the very real threat of a hospital system collapse.
The province has also announced further restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 including a stay-at-home order. A stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain at home with exceptions permitted only for going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, exercising or performing essential work that cannot be done remotely.
Schools in Elgin County remain closed for in-person learning until at least January 25, 2021. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will provide advice and an announcement regarding the return to in-person learning by January 20, 2021.
These new restrictions will start at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2021 and are anticipated to continue in our region until at least Thursday, February 11, 2021. These restrictions are largely consistent with the rules put in place during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring of 2020.
Details of the new restrictions include, but are not limited to:
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are restricted to a limit of five (5) people with limited exceptions.
- Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two (2) metres.
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
The province reinforced that enforcement personnel will have the authority to issue tickets to individuals, employees, and corporations who are found to be in contravention of an emergency order.
The County of Elgin supports all efforts to reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19 in our community. It is crucial that everyone adhere to these restrictions to protect the healthcare system, Elgin County residents and vulnerable populations living in long-term care homes.
“I understand how difficult these uncertain times are for everyone in our community,” said Warden Tom Marks. “We have been required to change the way that we do absolutely everything and after nearly a year of constant change we are all feeling a little weary; however, this is not the time to let our guard down.”
“The Province’s modelling shows that Ontario is currently in a crisis, and that if further action is not taken, our ICUs will be completely overwhelmed in only a few weeks,” continued Warden Marks. “These urgent measures are designed to limit our contacts with those outside our homes and to cut off the transmission of this deadly disease. I implore residents of Elgin County to remain at home to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.”
In addition to following all provincial restrictions and orders, the County of Elgin encourages the continued practice of public health measures such as frequent hand washing, physical distancing, disinfecting high touch surfaces, and wearing a face covering.
The County of Elgin Administration Building is open by appointment only. Library branches continue to offer curbside pick-up services. The Elgin County Heritage Centre and Archives remain closed to in-person visits; however, services can be accessed virtually. Provincial Offences Administration is accepting ticket payments online or by telephone only. A number of restrictions remain in place at Elgin’s long-term care homes. For a full list of impacted County services please visit our website.
Local case status data can be found on Southwestern Public Health’s website (www.swpublichealth.ca).
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated uncertainties have increased the stress levels of many Ontarians and Elgin County residents. If you are struggling with mental health challenges during this difficult time please reach out for help. Free Mental Health Supports are available from the province of Ontario.
The Provincial government announced a new small-business support grant to help businesses required to close or restrict services under the shutdown. Eligible small businesses can apply for a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000. According to the Province’s plan, $10,000 will be received by all eligible businesses and businesses can apply for up to $20,000 in additional dollar-for-dollar funding if they can show their losses exceeded the baseline $10,000.
For more information, please contact:
Warden Tom Marks Julie Gonyou, Chief Administrative Officer