Transcript from COVID-19 Video dated April 5, 2020.

By calling a state of emergency early this week, I am insisting that residents take the spread of the COVID-19 virus seriously. We need everyone to do the right thing and stay home.  Some of you are doing all you can to protect yourself and the community and I thank you for that.   Some are not. We need everyone to understand, this threat is real.

As Premier Ford said earlier this week, “We know a surge is coming. The hard truth is … there is very little separating what we will face here in Ontario from the devastation we’ve seen in Italy and Spain. Thousands of lives are at stake”.  I need everyone to understand, those lives could be yours, they could be your family’s.

Changes are coming very quickly. I want to make the current directions and orders clear to you.  If you have returned from travel outside Canada, you are legally required to self-isolate under the Federal Quarantine Act for 14 days.  You must stay on your own property, you may not go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, you cannot walk the dog.  Do call a neighbour or friend for help or get assistance from Carebridge for delivery of essentials.

Failure to comply could mean a fine of $750,000 and imprisonment for 6 months. If someone jeopardizes another’s life “while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act” you could be facing a $1 million fine and/or up to three years in prison. Once you are out of required self-isolation it is not appropriate to throw a party and have people into your home to celebrate. It dumbfounds me that I need to say that.

The Provincial Emergency Order prohibiting gatherings of more than 5 people applies on public or private property. The interpretation from our local health official now also includes organized events like birthday parades. Our local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paula Stewart has provided further instructions that people should only gather within the group they share their household with. While Dr. Stewarts’ instructions are not a mandatory order, this is her best medical advice to protect ourselves, our families and our community given the spread of the virus in our area. It means you can’t go to Grandma’s for Sunday dinner. It means extended families can’t have Easter together. It means no cocktails on the porch with friends. It means you don’t stop to chat in the street with the neighbours. It means school kids don’t play together. You can wave a hello and flash a smile and then go home, pick up the phone or send an email or message to connect. Connection is very important.

The Provincial Emergency Order to close all outdoor recreation spaces includes all shared or communal areas whether they are public or private. It means kids cannot use our play-structures or skateboard parks. It means you can’t access community or condo gardens.  It means you can’t toss a football in the park. The only activity that is permitted in parks or greens space is walk-through access. Please ensure your kids understand these orders.  If you are not required to self-isolate, please enjoy a walk or bike ride to get some fresh air.  If someone is joining you, they should live in your own household.

Provincial Emergency Orders are mandatory for everyone. Failure to comply could carry a punishment of up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.  The OPP are enforcing Provincial Emergency orders and other enforcement methods are being considered locally, provincially and federally.

Beyond these orders, all levels of government continue to share the message to wash your hands frequently and stay at home except for critical needs like trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. Limit these trips to once a week and only send one person to shop if at all possible for your household. I am still receiving complaints from essential businesses that people are coming in to browse. This is not acceptable.

Only make trips that are essential and please be quick, safe and polite. People in retail are working very hard for us and unnecessary exposure or risk must stop. Premier Ford has asked us this week, “What is the cost of a life?” Consider this in your actions and choices.    Even Rick Mercer in his latest rant said, “Stop looking for loopholes.” Everyone needs to do the right thing.

The virus spreads through our interactions and movements. The community has become the frontline for fighting this pandemic and it is with us where the battle to flatten the curve and save lives will be won or lost. Please, play your part.

Stay safe, stay home and be well.