By MPP Jim McDonell
The summer season is quickly coming to an end, and the recovery efforts made over this short time have been truly eye-opening and gratifying. At the start of July, many of our restaurants were still making preparations to reopen to on-site customers. I can say with considerable pride, that they have successfully carried out their tasks. Credit also has to go out to local municipal and public health officials for providing the necessary support. And of course, thank you to all the local customers who were able to patronize these establishments. These successes were accomplished through hard work and by following guidelines to wear masks when required, maintaining proper physical distancing, and using on-site sanitizers before entering our businesses.
As we progress through Stage 3 of our reopening plan, preparations are underway to relax restrictions to allow more businesses and organizations to open to the public. These measures are essential next steps, but we must not forget the needs of those who are most susceptible to this virus, such as our seniors and those with compromised immune systems. We are not out of the woods yet, and in response to these needs, we have extended orders under the Reopening Ontario legislation. The extension allows us to mitigate the ongoing risks and effects of COVID-19, especially if cases escalate significantly through an anticipated second wave. It ensures that essential measures are available to protect our vulnerable populations. For more detailed information on this issue, as well as on public health guidance to assist you in keeping you and your loved ones safe, please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario.
This past month was also a time of paramount consideration for parents and guardians as they assess whether their children should return to classrooms or continue remote learning. Either way, the Ontario government has taken strong measures to support both decisions. Early childcare experts have identified the importance of getting our younger children back to school for the development of their learning and social skills, and we are working with our medical experts to allow this to happen. I am confident that the government’s plan, adapted by school boards, is the safest in the country. As we move further into Phase 3 and more activities and businesses open, including schools, the opportunity for spread increases, and it is crucial for us to double-down on our safety practices. We need to remain flexible, allowing us to adapt quickly if the number of new cases significantly increases. Ontario is spending more dollars per capita than any province in the country, but we will need the cooperation of everyone involved to be successful. I wish students and staff a healthy and safe return.
With Labour Day approaching, I want to wish the Williamstown Fair group good luck as they work to hold their 209th Fair. The drive-through version on Saturday night, September 5, will allow their faithful fans to appreciate some of the terrific products, crafts, and services available in rural Ontario.
As always, remember to stay safe and protect yourself and your loved ones.