Opinion Piece by Mayor Kathryn McGarry on Physical Distancing

Posted on Tuesday April 07, 2020

Stay home, stay safe. We can do this, Cambridge

Public Health Ontario recently released grim projections on the potential death toll in Ontario this month due to COVID-19. The current model estimates the province could reach as high as 80,000 cases and 1,600 deaths by the end of April.

Sixteen hundred people — parents, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters — I am horrified by these numbers. We all are. We must do everything we can do to change this outcome. How this ends up, is dependent on each and every one of us.

Stay home. Practise physical distancing. Avoid gatherings outside your household. Wash your hands often. If you must go out for essential work or supplies, stay two metres or six feet away from people. All playgrounds, sports fields, indoor and outdoor recreation areas are closed. Schools and most businesses are closed. All public buildings are closed.

Our public health officials are urgently asking us to collectively slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Every level of government is repeating this ask. Our health-care workers and first responders are imploring us to follow the measures. We have to protect the lives of everyone in our community. We have to prevent our hospitals and intensive care units from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 positive patients.

The declaration of the State of Emergency by the province, the Region of Waterloo and Cambridge, means that our police and bylaw officers can now enforce these public health measures. Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo staff have been working on implementing enforcement since the provincial Solicitor General gave us the directive.

Now it is the law. Strict enforcement measures are in effect. The first level of fine is a stiff $750 for those not complying with physical distancing. Obstruction of a person exercising a power in accordance with an emergency order is $1000. Fines up to $500,000 can be issued to corporation owners under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act. Our bylaw and police officers are prepared to enforce these measures. The first fine was issued in Kitchener last weekend. We won’t hesitate to do the same in Cambridge.

Our initial focus on an education-first approach has mostly been heeded. Unfortunately, there are still those in our city who are not following the law. This is reckless and dangerous behaviour. Those who ignore these measures are putting themselves and essential workers at great risk — everyone who is working so incredibly hard to keep our hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, and critical services going.

Cambridge, this is a matter of life and death. Parents, talk to your teenagers. Kids and families have to stop hanging out in parks, parking lots or anywhere else. Only one family member should go out for supplies, and only once a week. Remind your friends, family, neighbours and people in your network. Our actions now will determine the future of how this virus will impact our community.

We can do this — for ourselves, our families, our seniors, and everyone in our beautiful city. Stay safe. Stay connected through calls and video chat (if I can learn Zoom, so can you). Care for each other. Be kind. Remember, we are all in this together, while apart.

Kathryn McGarry
Mayor of Cambridge

For city updates, visit: www.cambridge.ca/covid19

For calls about violations regarding physical distancing, call City of Cambridge Bylaw: 519-623-1340 ext 7907 or bylaw@cambridge.ca

For regional updates, visit Region of Waterloo Public Health, visit www.regionofwaterloo.ca/covid19, or call 519-575-4400.

The above opinion piece by Mayor Kathryn McGarry appeared in the Cambridge Times on April 4, 2020https://www.cambridgetimes.ca/opinion-story/9936129-stay-home-stay-safe-we-can-do-this-cambridge/