Kingston could be first city in Ontario to ease COVID-19 restrictions
KINGSTON, ONT. -- In what could be a first step in returning to normal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one city in eastern Ontario is looking at scaling back emergency restrictions.
According to Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health, there are have been 56 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region since mid-March. All but four are now resolved. No one in the health unit's region has died of COVID-19 to date and there are no patients in hospital.
2,441 tests have been completed, with 114 awaiting results.
Since April 5, the area has seen just three new cases.
Now, a local councillor is putting forward a motion to ask the province to allow Kingston to begin reopening parts of its economy.
Coun. Robert Kiley will be presenting a motion to Kingston City Council Tuesday that would see the city request some flexibility from provincial restrictions.
A portion of the motion reads:
- Whereas provincial orders are based on current experiences in large urban centres which may not reflect the health risks and realities of smaller regional areas such as Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington which could benefit from more local flexibility, based on local Public Health advice, to allow for more activities such as and including community gardening and other outdoor activities;
- Therefore Be It Resolved That Kingston City Council advise the Provincial Government that it is City Council’s belief, in consultation with KFL&A Public Health, that local flexibility to provincial orders, based on local public health units’ advice, be considered in order to properly address local needs and provide access to certain activities including community gardens, while continuing to implement physical distancing and other guidelines to ensure newly reopened community activities are places of safety and health for residents
Kingston appears to be the first municipality in Ontario to be considering such a request.
Last week, Ontario extended its state of emergency to May 12, saying the crisis is far from over.
“COVID-19 is the greatest threat that we’ve seen in decades,” Premier Doug Ford said during an emergency session of the legislature. “We know this crisis is still far from over. We are still facing a clear and present danger.”
The province has banned gatherings of more than five people, closed schools and parks, and has ordered all but essential businesses shuttered.
One local group in Kingston has been calling for a return of community gardens during the pandemic. They're off-limits at the moment because the fall under the order to close parks.
Ontario is set to release new models Monday that could paint a more positive picture of how the province is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier models estimated Ontario could see 1600 deaths and more than 80,000 cases of the virus by the end of April.
Those numbers stand at 553 deaths and 10,578 confirmed cases as of Sunday.