In perhaps the most powerful local sign yet that this pandemic is near it’s end, the leaders of both the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington announced Wednesday that the local states of emergency could be ended by the last day of 2021. Both Mayor Cam Guthrie and Warden Kelly Linton released similar sounding statements today saying that, with the advice of public health, the nearly two-year-old state of emergency may be *almost* over.
“Recognizing how well our community has done to date, I anticipate a municipal state of emergency will no longer be needed by the end of the year. But that does not mean we are across the finish line in our continued response to COVID-19, and it does not mean we can let our guard down,” said Guthrie in a statement. “This is an administrative change that will be largely invisible to the public. But it’s another milestone in our community’s journey to recovery from the pandemic.”
“I have spoken with City of Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie and Dufferin County Warden Darren White, and we are all on the same page,” said Linton in his own statement. “While there is no longer a need for a local State of Emergency to be in place, the pandemic is not over. I continue to urge all residents to get vaccinated and continue to follow guidance from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.”
For the record, Mayor Guthrie announced a local state of emergency on March 26, 2020. Back in July, Guthrie told Open Sources Guelph that he had been exploring the circumstances by which he could declare an end to the state of emergency, but these were complicated conversations. “There are going to be targets that we will look at for the community, and then we will meet those targets collectively as a team, I can look at saying that I’m rescinding the state of emergency,” he said.
“After nearly 20 months of a global pandemic, it is time to chart a path back to something more normal for all of us,” said local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer. “I am keen to begin the careful reduction of restrictions guided by the best science and data available. As we work toward that return to normal, each of us must continue to follow public health guidance so that as we approach the time to ease restrictions, we are as safe and as ready as we can be.”
“Guelph has made significant strides against the COVID-19 pandemic, boasting a vaccination rate above 90 per cent and growing – something that would have been impossible without the commitment of the City and residents alike,” Mercer added.
Provincial legislation gives the head of municipal councils the authority to declare a state of emergency, and there is a formal legislative process that mayors must follow in order to both begin and end that state of emergency. If Guelph’s state of emergency ends on December 31, we would have been under that state for 645 days.