The New Provincial State of Emergency: What Does It Mean for Kingston?
Today is the first day of the new provincial state of emergency that will be in place for at least the next 14 days and is meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases across Ontario. So what does that mean here in Kingston? First and foremost, you should avoid travel outside of the Kingston region unless it is absolutely essential. The number of COVID cases is far lower in our region relative to most areas in the rest of the province, so avoiding travel where possible is really important.
I know this stay-at-home order has created a lot of confusion. These public health measures aim to decrease cases across the province and to reduce the load on our health care system, but there’s flexibility in these provisions. You should work from home if possible, and this order includes changes to business hours, but it is in no way a curfew, and there are still a number of permitted reasons for leaving your house. In fact, spending time outdoors to get fresh air and exercise is allowed and encouraged for your own physical and mental health. Trails, playgrounds, and the rink at Springer Market Square remain open. Staff will continue to work with KFL&A Public Health to monitor and implement best practices for heavily utilized spaces such as the Springer Market Square rink. When you do head outside, ensure you are in a group of no more than five people.
There’s also nothing prohibiting you from continuing to support local businesses. This state of emergency will be especially tough on them and so over the next four weeks, let’s make sure we all do everything we can to support local. Continue to support restaurants by ordering meals for take-out or delivery and consider purchasing goods for curbside pick-up or delivery. If you’re not comfortable picking it up yourself, you can use local delivery services such as Downtown Delivers.
You should also be aware that City Hall and the Payment Centre will be closed as of today. You can find many of our services online but I will provide a link in the description that includes further information about impacts to City services and facilities. I know many of you are discouraged and exhausted. The last 10 months have been incredibly difficult. And while I believe we do have some challenging months ahead, after seeing our first shipment of vaccines to the region on Tuesday, I also believe we can hope for brighter days ahead. I cannot thank our community enough for the incredible job you’ve done following public health rules to limit the spread of COVID in our region. The case numbers in Kingston continue to demonstrate your efforts to protect one another and you should be very proud.