St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik has declared a city-wide state of emergency as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread rapidly.
In an address sent out on April 3, Mayor Sendzik detailed that the decision to announce a state of emergency came after analysis of the current pandemic.
“COVID-19 is in our community, it is affecting our families and our healthcare system. I know that many of you are doing your part to stay home and prevent the spread of this virus and I am grateful for your efforts,” said Sendzik. “We are at a critical time in our fight against this virus and we all need to mobilize our efforts even more to protect as many people as possible. We are all on the front lines of the fight against [the virus].”
The mayor is urging residents to stay inside as much as possible and maintain proper physical distancing when going out. This is especially important as the coming months are known for many outdoor activities, celebrations and get-togethers.
“With warm weather here and faith-based holidays coming up, I am strongly urging everyone to stay home and protect your loved ones. We must do this now to protect the healthcare workers and hospitals from being overwhelmed, to protect our loved ones from sickness and to protect the workers who are still working hard to keep essential services flowing,” said Sendzik.
The City of St. Catharines is not the only municipality in the Niagara Region to declare a state of emergency. All 12 municipalities in the region not only collaborated on the details and timing of the declaration, but also issued announcements at roughly the same time.
The declaration ties in with measures already put in place across the province of Ontario. It directs residents not to hold gatherings of more than five people, including private gatherings of extended family; avoid all outdoor recreational amenities, including parks, playgrounds, beaches and sports fields.
The declaration also closes all non-essential businesses and encourages residents to stay at home whenever they can. Additionally, it gives each of the municipalities the power to issue fines to enforce public health and emergency directives. Failing to comply with an emergency order carries a fine of $750 per offence and up to $1,000 for obstructing those attempting to carry out their duties.
The state of emergency announcement was timely as just this weekend, Niagara’s confirmed cases increased by 37 individuals. This brings the total number of cases in the region to over 130. Despite this increase in cases, Mayor Sendzik is sure that the community will get through the pandemic with proper practices.
“We will get through this unprecedented crisis and we will do it together as a community. Generations before us have risen to the challenges of their times and we are doing the same,” said Sendzik. “Through our collective courage and sacrifices, through our compassion for our neighbours, friends and family, through unity in our fight against this unseen enemy, we will see better days. For today, do your part: stay home and stay safe.”
For information on City closures and updates on the pandemic visit www.stcatharines.ca/COVID19. To request enforcement of provincial orders, residents can complete the COVID-19 non-compliance complaint form at www.stcatharines.ca/COVID19 and contact Citizens First via email at email@example.com or by phone at 905-688-5600. For after-hour concerns or complaints of an urgent nature residents are urged to contact Niagara Regional Police on their non-emergency line at 905-688-4111.