Council returns to in-person meetings on Monday
After two years of lowered flags and half-capacity stores, the Region of Niagara has lifted the state of emergency brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the heads of council, we declared the state of emergency together in an effort to help save lives, protect our hospital system and to underscore the critical nature of the (pandemic),” regional chair Jim Bradley said in a statement.
“After two years, we are in a significantly different position and it appears that it is now the appropriate time to move forward as a community.”
The state of emergency was lifted across all Niagara municipalities simultaneously on Tuesday, March 15.
As of Wednesday, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s vaccination policy for employees is still in effect, town spokesperson Lauren Kruitbosch said in an email to The Lake Report.
“Senior staff and the Emergency Control Group (ECG) continue to review the policy regularly. The next review is taking place on March 21 following March break, and staff will be advised of any changes to the policy shortly thereafter,” she said.
The Monday, March 21 committee of the whole meeting will be the first in-person meeting for councillors and the town clerk since the pandemic began, Kruitbosch said. The meeting is limited to council and the clerk. All delegations, staff, residents and media will attend virtually.
Kruitbosch said the town had yet to determine whether masks will still be required in its facilities after March 21.
“Senior staff is working with the region to support a consistent approach to changes throughout regional municipalities and will provide updates as soon as they become available via the town's website and social media pages,” she said.
Bradley congratulated Niagara residents for their due diligence during the state of emergency.
“Make no mistake: the sacrifices that you made saved lives and kept people out of the hospital,” Bradley said.
“These two years have been difficult and volatile for all of us,” Lord Mayor Betty Disero said.
Disero thanked staff, council, residents and generous organizations who did what was necessary during the pandemic and looked after their neighbours, family and friends who were struggling.
“Lastly, and probably most importantly, I want to thank our frontline workers and our emergency response teams for everything they did, working tirelessly, 24 hours a day to heal us and to make sure that we’re safe.”
But Disero and Bradley both made sure to highlight the continuing threat of COVID-19.
“The pandemic is not yet gone. We should continue to stay safe,” she said.
Disero encouraged NOTLers to continue wearing masks if they wish and maintain social distancing when out in public.