Almost two years after both the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington initiated states of emergency in dealing with COVID-19, both governments are announcing their end next week. Coinciding with the previously announced end to proof of vaccination from the Government of Ontario, both the County and the City will end their emergency declaration and measures on March 1. Hopefully for real this time.
Both municipalities announced their intention to end their respective state of emergencies on Tuesday within an hour of each other. The message was universally positive saying that the public health indicators are improving, and since the residents in the area have acted so responsibility, it’s now time to, in the words of Wellington County Warden Kelly Linton, “start returning to normal.”
“As key public health system indicators are continuing to improve, there is no longer a need for our local State of Emergency,” Linton said in a statement. “This positive progress is the direct result of the majority of our residents acting responsibly by getting vaccinated and following basic public health guidelines. I continue to encourage each and every one of you to get vaccinated so that as a community we can protect the gains we have made.”
Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie agreed with that sentiment that maintaining a non-state of emergency will depend on everyone following public health guidelines to the best of their ability.
“This is one more milestone in our journey to recovery from the pandemic. But our recovery is only possible if we continue to follow public health guidelines: keep wearing a mask, continue social distancing, and get vaccinated. I am urging everyone to stay vigilant so that we can maintain the progress we have made,” Guthrie said in his statement.
Dufferin County, which is also under the same public health authority as Wellington and Guelph, also announced an end to their state of emergency on March 1.
“We’re thankful for Dufferin County residents’ diligence and continued commitment to the fight against COVID-19. As key public health and health system indicators continue to improve, we feel confident about terminating our Emergency Declaration,” said Warden Wade Mills in his statement. “We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and follow public health guidance so we can preserve and protect the positive progress we’ve achieved thus far.”
This is not the first time that the local governments have tried to end the state of emergency. Back in November, Mayor Guthrie announced that he would be ending the state of emergency before the end of 2021, but the emergence of the Omicron variant and it’s quick spread throughout the community prompted a pause and a reconsideration. On December 14, Guthrie announced that the state of emergency would stay in place.
Guelph announced the state of emergency on March 26, 2020, and with it some delegated authority was transferred from council to the chief administrative officer, and some municipal employees were transferred to different roles and responsibilities as required by the nature of the emergency.
Lest you think otherwise, the announcements did come with the approval of the WDG Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer. “As the pandemic impacted local communities, those at risk were able to understand the best measures to take based on the communications and actions of the County,” Mercer said in a Wellington County media release.
“It has been a difficult time for many, but ensuring residents knew where to get vaccinated and what actions to take to protect themselves and their loved ones, has been a constant priority,” she added. “I look forward to continuing this level of cooperation with Wellington County and all local municipalities as we apply the lessons learned over the past two years and navigate the future keeping in mind the health and safety of all residents.”
In a separate announcement on Tuesday afternoon, Mercer stated her intention to withdraw her letter of instruction for sports and indoor rec facilities requiring proof of vaccination. The letter was in addition to the Government of Ontario’s proof of vaccination requirements announced in September 2021. Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford announced that all proof of vaccination requirements will be discontinued on March 1.