The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has “partially activated” its Emergency Operations Centre due to the threat of COVID-19, also referred to as novel coronavirus. As of Friday it has also closed a number of town-operated facilities.
The town announced Friday that, keeping in line with measures being taken by the province, it will be closing the Meridian Credit Union and Centennial arenas in Virgil, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston libraries and the community centre effective midnight.
The chamber of commerce said it will remain open, with new restrictions in place, such as no longer accepting cash, sanitizing debit/credit card terminals before and after each use and keeping the doors left propped open. Furthermore personal coffee mugs will no longer be accepted and a chamber staff will now be adding milk and sugar and stirring and closing lids.
“Please note that we have enhanced our already careful sanitizing and cleaning measures and are implementing them repeatedly. We ask that all customers accept these special requests and we welcome further recommendations you may have to help keep you and our space safe. Additionally, we ask that everyone remain mindful of keeping a distance from one another, and should you feel any symptoms, please stay home and rest,” said a chamber notice on Friday.
The town said members of the Emergency Operation Centre have been actively meeting and have developed a business continuity plan to ensure that residents continue to receive essential services.
“In the meantime, we ask that you do your part by remaining calm, by practicing social distancing, by continuing to adhere to prevention techniques outlined by Niagara Region Public Health and by not overloading hospital and health facilities,” said a town release Friday.
The town is reminding residents that even though one case has now been confirmed in Niagara, the risk to residents remains low. Anyone who believes they have any symptoms of COVID-19 is asked to first phone Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
The town municipal offices are still open, but the town urges residents residents to stay home unless if the matter isn’t urgent.
“There are many ways we can serve you online – if you don’t absolutely need to come into the town administrative office, please don’t. Call first between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 905-468-3266 or take advantage of our online service requests at notl.com. Additional informative resources can be found at notl.com/COVID-19.”
“With the heightened awareness and public concerns related to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please be assured that town council and staff share your concerns and are working diligently to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff,” said a town information release sent out Friday.
“Town staff have been in regular discussions with Niagara Region Public Health throughout the week, and while the risk of contracting the virus is still low, the town is focused on efforts to protect the public, staff and their families from potential exposure to COVID-19.”
The town said its Emergency Operations Centre is staffed by its Emergency Control Group, made up of Lord Mayor Betty Disero, senior staff, and members of the town’s fire and emergency services department.
“The role of the (control group) is to develop and coordinate responses and preventative actions to any emergency. In the event of an emergency, the (control group) works to ensure the continuity of town operations. Activating the (emergency operations centre) allows key staff to coordinate efforts to ensure decisions are being made to help protect the public and town employees.
The decision comes just two days after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Residents can stay up to date on town releases regarding COVID-19 on the town’s social media pages and at www.notl.com/COVID-19.
For residents who don’t have access to the internet, important messaging from the town will be displayed at all local post offices.