Mayor Ferguson urges against travel to highly active COVID areas in Ontario

COVID-19. (Wikipedia.org)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

As the second wave of COVID-19 starts to flow around and over the county, the mayor of this island municipality and businesses are sending messages to would be travellers coming to and leaving Prince Edward County.

Think twice.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza. (HPEPH photo)

While local numbers continue to climb- there were 25 active cases according to the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health COVID-19 dashboard as of Tuesday including a pair in Prince Edward County- Toronto and Peel regions find themselves in lockdown due to their continually escalating case loads.

The HPEPH unit will likely go from green to yellow sometime this week while the aforementioned Greater Toronto Area communities are in red, causing the Province of Ontario to move those health unit regions backwards in the reopening framework.

Late last week Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH , called on residents to remain diligent with their efforts to practice public health protocols, and consider additional changes to their travel and social habits. Oglaza said the entire team at HPEPH continues to be grateful for the ongoing efforts of the community to curb the spread of COVID-19 and recognizes that these efforts are not easy.

However, residents are asked to carefully consider how essential their travel and social activities may be, recognizing that any situation where there is close contact with others can increase the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

“I am asking all residents to consider additional changes they can make to help reduce the risk of exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19”, said Oglaza “Please avoid travel to other regions unless absolutely necessary. Consider postponing invitations for visits from friends or family members who reside in other areas. Every new case in our region increases the risk of local spread and could severely impact our vulnerable loved ones.”

County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson echoed those comments and called for county residents to avoid travel to higher transmission areas unless absolutely necessary. “We remain in the green/prevent zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. However, cases are rising in our area, and we are preparing in the event that our area is moved to the yellow/protect zone, “ Ferguson said. “Now more than ever, we must be diligent in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID. As per our municipal bylaw, you must wear a mask or face covering  in all indoor locations open to the public, as well as at farmers’ markets. Be sure to wash and sanitize your hands regularly.”

The Province of Ontario is also urging people living in areas of high-transmission to avoid all non-essential travel to low-transmission areas and while the municipality might pride itself in being a welcoming community to all, it was Ferguson’s hope people living in high-transmission areas reconsider visiting Prince Edward County at this time

“We invite people to visit at a later date when it is safe to do so,” Ferguson added. With the slow down in people coming to the County, I understand that tough times lie ahead for local businesses. I urge local residents to safely support our local businesses, particularly with Christmas approaching. Instead of ordering online from a big chain outlet, please consider buying from a local store. Support local business through curbside pickup and ordering takeout or delivery. Let’s do all we can to get through this together.”

Some local businesses were taking measures a step further and leading the charge towards slowing down the tourism trade. The Waring House Inn announced through social media it was is cancelling all reservations for accommodation and dining for customers travelling from lock down or red zone areas “because of concern for the safety of our staff and our community.”

This policy will remain in effect until further notice.

“We are very sorry not to be able to host guests from these areas at this time, and look forward to welcoming them in the better days ahead,” the statement read. For updated totals, please visit hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-cases/