TIMMINS — Expect to see bylaw officers at Timmins grocery stores enforcing the shopping rules for COVID-19.
Timmins Mayor George Pirie announced the measure, as well as a reminder for people not to be getting together with groups of people in a Sunday health table update.
“We continue to see group shopping, families shopping together. We’ve had various observations and complaints from health care professionals about this. The rules are posted on the door and the rules simply state one person per family. That allows, in fact, everybody in a grocery store at one time to stay that six feet apart,” he said.
Pirie said the bylaw officers will initially be educating people, but "will rapidly move to laying fines" to make sure workers and shoppers and safe.
“So tomorrow, you’ll see bylaw officers at the grocery stores to in fact ensure that people know exactly how to count to one and there will obviously be some situations that they will be addressing - you may have a single mother and others - but the process of the education of this rule and why it’s there will begin tomorrow,” he said.
Pirie's office also continues to get complaints about people getting together for backyard parties or dinner parties.
"This cannot happen. You cannot take that gamble, you can’t make that bet. There’s no upside to that, there’s no upside to that gamble or bet. You’re already healthy. There’s only a downside, that you get sick and the consequences of getting sick with this virus could quite possibly be death, either to you or others. We’ve called the police, constables have responded to the situations and they’ll continue to respond to these situations. Right now there’s no fines being levied, there will be fines levied,” he said.
With Easter a week away, the same rules about not gathering apply.
“Everybody must follow the same rules if we’re going to get through this together safely. And we can, everybody simply has to do their part,” he said.
In the Porcupine Health Unit area, there are currently 29 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
As of this morning, the PHU was aware of 407 tests submitted locally. Of the 29 positives, five cases are resolved and two people have died. Of the tests submitted, 332 have been negative and the results of 46 are pending.
The Porcupine Health Unit's Chantal Riopel said one of those cases is an individual at the Monteith Correctional Centre. She said the health unit isn't providing further details on the case.
In the past 24 hours there have not been any new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the health unit's region.
Even though there are no new postive tests reported, Riopel said people should continue to act as though it's everywhere.
"Having one day without a positive case does not mean we can let up. We need to continue practising physical distancing, staying home as much as we can, go to work if you are an essential worker, no get-togethers, no visiting indoors or outdoors with other people other than your immediate family. Having one day without a positive case does not mean we’re out of the woods at all, we must continue to practise all of the precautions that we are recommending for the weeks to come,” she said.
Riopel issued a warning about travelling, as well.
“We are also asking community members to please limit travel between communities and to avoid travel to any other areas of the province with high numbers of COVID. Staying home, staying in our community will help protect everyone,” she said.
State of Emergency
Timmins Fire Chief Tom Laughren provided some insight into what the state of emergency declaration means in the city.
It takes place under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which promotes the public good by protecting the health, safety and welfare of people in times of emergencies.
Laughren said it implements the city's emergency plan.
“It’s implemented with really the goal of protecting property, the health, safety and welfare of the community, which I think we’ve been speaking about a lot over the past couple of weeks. It provides the head of council the authority to take actions and make orders which are not contrary to law in order to protect citizens. I think an example of that would be the curfew that the mayor is talking about. It allows us the opportunity to research that and look what the impact would be,” he said.
The state of emergency extends WSIB coverage to volunteers serving meals at the Lord's Kitchen as part of the COVID-19 food security schedule, and raises public awareness about the pandemic's seriousness.
Laughren said it also gives the city access to work with provincial agencies such as Emergency Management Ontario, and provides access to agencies in the local community.