Thank you. Thank you for following public health advice. Thank you for staying home. Thank you for avoiding large gatherings. Thank you for keeping a physical distance, washing your hands at every opportunity and for wearing a mask.
As a result of your efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus we are now able to move into Stage 3 and reopen most businesses in many parts of Ontario including here in Parry Sound-Muskoka as of this Friday, July 17.
Stage 3 means that restaurants will be able to offer indoor dining. Gyms, movie theatres, live theatre, and tour boats will be able to open with some restrictions. The limit on gatherings will be 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors although within those gatherings people are still asked to maintain physical distancing with people outside of their social circles.
Those businesses that have not yet been allowed to open are invited to submit a plan to open safely which will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer and the Health Table. If the medical professionals believe their plan will ensure health and safety they will be allowed to open individually. Right now the amusement park at Santa’s Village has submitted a plan and I am hopeful they will be allowed to open in the near future.
This is all good news but the move to Stage 3 doesn’t mean the risk is gone. It doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. The risk of infection is lower but in order to keep it there, we will live in a new normal.
We won’t be attending large events like concerts and professional sports for a while. We will be asked for contact information at more places to help with contact tracing if necessary. Numbers will be restricted in almost all facilities.
And we will be wearing masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces. Yes, masks can be uncomfortable and it is harder to communicate without being able to see someone’s face. But it is a minor inconvenience that our public health professionals believe will help us reduce the risk of further outbreaks. It is necessary for our health and for our economy.
I know it has been a long haul to reopening but Ontario’s careful approach has kept the number of new cases down for the past few weeks.
Stage 2 allowed many people to return to work safely. Last week Statistics Canada reported 377,900 jobs were created in Ontario in the month of June. Those aren’t new jobs but they do represent 377,900 people once again collecting a paycheque. And as Ontario moves into Stage 3, July should show even more progress.
Now we all need to help do our part to help businesses recover. As much as possible please help your friends and neighbours by shopping local and buying Ontario-made products.
If you are planning a big purchase, try to buy something made in Ontario.
But I understand many people aren’t in a position to make big purchases this year. So even when you are shopping for necessities and small items, please try to buy things made in Ontario. Look for the Foodland Ontario symbol in your grocery stores or shop at our farmers’ markets. Look for packaged food products made in Ontario like French’s Ketchup which is made using tomatoes from Leamington.
In order to help you identify Ontario-made products, the province is supporting an initiative by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Products made in Ontario will be able to carry the Ontario Made seal.
If someone from elsewhere said they were coming to the area and asked you where they should stay and what they should do, what would you tell them? And how long has it been since you visited those places? Become a tourist in your own region this summer.
Take a boat tour on Lake Muskoka or Georgian Bay or visit places like Muskoka Heritage Place, the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame or any one of the small museums in our area. And hopefully soon, Santa’s Village. This is the year to rediscover the treasures we have in our own backyard.
If, after so many weeks at home, you want to get away for a few days, why not visit a nearby resort? Who says you have to drive for hours to treat yourself to a resort stay? We have some of the best resorts anywhere right here in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
Explorers’ Edge, our local tourism marketing organization, received COVID-19 recovery funding from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to promote local tourism. They will be using some of this funding for an incentive program to encourage local residents and seasonal residents to visit local attractions. For information on this program visit www.explorersedge.ca starting on July 16.
Thank you again for everything you have done to help control the spread of COVID-19. And thank you for those things you continue to do like wearing a mask when you are in an indoor public spaces, maintaining a physical distance of six feet from other people, and frequent hand washing.
With your help we will continue to keep the rate of infection low and make sure businesses have a high rate of recovery.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
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