“That means what we do this week will probably determine how much we can open next week. So, the simple message is … we really need people to stay at home for one more week because after that week it is very likely that the restrictions will be lifted, but the degree to which they are lifted … is still up to (health officials).” – Mayor Jeff Lehman on pending easing of COVID-19 restrictions
Some good news for the ski industry in the region arrived via Mayor Jeff Lehman Monday night at city council, when he said that local ski hills may be reopening next week.
“This is worth thousands of jobs in our area,” he said, adding there will be restrictions in place regarding how the hills can open.
“The ski industry in our area is more than 2,000 jobs, so it is a very significant employer and if indeed the new measures are going to allow (for) the safe opening of the ski industry, that is a good thing for many people who were laid off just after Christmas.”
The mayor was addressing new measures announced by the Province on Monday about the partial reopening of three regions in Ontario, with more to come next week (Feb. 16). The regions impacted are Hastings Prince Edward Public Health; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
The Simcoe/Muskoka district remains under stay-at-home provisions, but will be among the regions due to move to a less-restrictive colour designation next week. Three regions, Peel, Toronto, and York, will have to wait until Feb. 22 before they can reopen.
The Province also announced an update to the colour-coded response framework. The five zones of public health measures are Green, Protect, Restrict, Control, Lockdown. What zone Barrie and region lands on depends greatly on what happens over the next week, said Lehman.
“We will hear, apparently later in the week, what level of the colour-coded framework we will go back into, (and) that depends on public health metrics like caseload, and per cent positivity, and the spread of the virus,” he said.
“That means what we do this week will probably determine how much we can open next week. So, the simple message is that nothing changed today (Monday), and we really need people to stay at home for one more week because after that week it is very likely that the restrictions will be lifted, but the degree to which they are lifted … is still up to (health officials).”
The mayor also noted the Province’s announcement that smaller businesses will be able to reopen with a 25-per cent capacity limit,. saying it helps to level the playing field with larger retailers that have been allowed to remain open.
The new framework allows for limited retail shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones. Capacity limits increase as regions move into less-restrictive framework levels.