Kingston asks residents to show 'community kindness' to visitors during COVID pandemic
File photo of Kingston City Hall. (Kimberley Johnson / CTV News Ottawa)
KINGSTON -- After three new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Kingston, Ont on Saturday, there continues to be mixed reaction from residents regarding opening the city's tourism sector.
Residents like Bruce Baker saying it is just too soon for people from Toronto, which have more cases, to start entering this smaller city.
“My granddaughter is from Toronto and loves Kingston and wants to come and I have to say no not yet. I don’t feel safe having you here,” Baker explained. “And that’s the decision I have to make. It breaks my heart but that's what I have to do.”
Baker is not alone. Since the lifting of restrictions in the province's regional reopening strategy, the city has seen 36 new cases of COVID-19 linked to a single nail salon.
Residents like Marjorie Murphy would like to err on the side of caution. Murphy says it is nothing personal, but feels the virus needs to be taken seriously.
“To take that chance someone coming here. And certainly they’re not here to bring it, and the next thing we have an outbreak,” she explained.
While residents like Dimitri Senis says tourism is too important to ignore during the pandemic.
“The number one industry has been tourism. We should welcome tourism as much as possible,” he said.
In 2019, the city welcomed 4.5 million tourists and brought in $533-million, according to Tourism Kingston.
The Conference Board of Canada reported that Kingston is one of the hardest hit communities in Canada for impact on tourism sector workforce.
On Friday, Mayor Bryan Paterson released a joint statement, along with several community partners, asking for “community kindness” as the city continues to deal with waves of the virus.
“We have worked incredibly hard to limit the spread of the virus and we should be proud of our efforts,” the statement read. “Let’s continue to work together, support one another and demonstrate our resiliency."
It also said that there are no travel restrictions between cities in Ontario, and that people can be visiting for many reasons, asking residents to be “kind.”
“Whatever the reason, we should avoid making assumptions or being inhospitable because of where a person is from. The risk of COVID-19 across Canada remains significantly low and with the addition of the new mandatory mask order in the KFL&A area and with the closure of the U.S. border, this will continue to lower the risk."
The statement was signed by several community partners, including Tourism Kingston, Visit Kingston and the KFL&A Health Unit, among others.
Dr. Kieran Moore, the city’s chief medical officer, echoing the mayor's statement.
“This event has shown we can respond to this quickly and effectively,” he said. “We should continue to be kind, caring and welcoming.”