Lord Mayor Betty Disero, aware of last weekend’s threats against Dr. Mustafa Hirji, the region’s acting medical officer of health, joined many others with her message of support for Hirji.
She had supported him when he first spoke of recommending Niagara be in the grey zone, with numbers in some municipalities that justified the lockdown restrictions that accompany grey, but said earlier this week numbers are coming down, and that could change.
“Dr. Hirji has dedicated his career to protecting the health and safety of the public. His recommendations are made to keep us all safe. Threats of violence are completely unacceptable. We’re better than that,” she said.
“It’s been a long road, and we’re all exhausted and frustrated by the ongoing impacts of this pandemic. We must stay calm and united.”
On a personal note, Disero added, “I am so ready to be out of lockdown. And it will happen. But until then, I’ll stay home and follow regulations to protect my family and others. Please, please do the same. And please, be kind, we are all struggling! I stand with @mustafahirji.”
She has been hoping for a move to red, hoping the numbers would justify the less restrictive zone.
“Everything is changing so quickly,” she said.
The decision to put Niagara in grey would have been made because at that point, there were some portions of the region where the numbers called for it, although the majority of municipalities were either in red, with one in orange. “How do you move everyone to a colour with less restrictions when there are still some in grey?” she asks.
“If there are still areas in grey, then the region has to be in grey.”
It will likely be no more than two weeks before Niagara is moved to red, as long as the numbers reflect that, she added.
In the meantime, she urges people to follow the rules and work with Dr. Hirji to continue to bring those case numbers down.
The solution to helping Niagara businesses is not opening up before it’s safe, but for the province to help out with more financial aid for businesses that are suffering, she said.
Many of the current programs make it impossible for businesses, including some that are still closed, to meet the criteria for assistance, and that should change.
“That’s how the province can help. The province has a bigger pool of funding to access than municipalities do. We’re all having to tighten our belts.”
Disero says municipalities should be calling on the province to look at how it can help businesses through the pandemic.
“Public health makes decisions to keep people safe. Reopening is the job of cabinet, and the province should be making decisions that help the economy.”