With Niagara now in the red zone, even if only until Saturday, there have been some changes made to public facilities.
And more are expected beginning Boxing Day, Lord Mayor Betty Disero reported during her council update on COVID, encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant over the holidays.
CAO Marnie Cluckie explained the provincial lockdown that begins Saturday morning means restrictions are similar to the early days of the pandemic, with nonessential businesses closed, including bars restaurants and retail locations, which may move to takeout or curbside pickups.
Recreation facilities also must close, although the good news, she said, is that outdoor recreation amenities such as parks, tobogganing, outdoor skating and playgrounds can remain open.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses will remain open, but at 50 per cent capacity.
Indoor organized public events and social gatherings are prohibited, except for members of the same household, Cluckie said.
Residents are being reminded “to stay home to the fullest extent possible.” Trips outside the home are limited to essential purposes, such as going out for food and medication, and work should be remote, also “to the greatest extent possible.”
“We’ve been in a state of emergency for nine months now, which is bound to take a toll on mental health,” she said. Look online for mental health resources, “check in on neighbours, on your loved ones, and check in on yourselves as well.”
Fire Chief Nick Ruller asked residents to refrain from driving unless it’s necessary.
“One of our biggest concerns that we’ve had throughout this evolving pandemic has been the unintended consequences that can occur from simple things like nonessential travel.”
That means “don’t leave your home unless you’re leaving for groceries, access to health care and things along those lines,” said Ruller.
“A simple motor vehicle collision can involve several police officers, paramedics, and eight to 10 firefighters. We are putting our essential workers at risk if we don’t abide by the recommendations of public health.”
Ruller acknowledged “the steadfast service of our volunteer firefighters throughout the pandemic,” and added, “we simply ask that you assist us in keeping them safe, and their families safe, throughout this, by adhering to public health recommendations.”