WELLINGTON COUNTY – The county’s local state of emergency will not be ending as planned in the new year.
The county announced on Dec. 14 that officials have decided, in consultation with Dr. Nicola Mercer, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s (WDGPH) medical officer of health, to keep the state of emergency in Wellington County in place.
On Nov. 10 the county announced plans to end its state of emergency on Dec. 31 at 11:59 pm if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to decline, and if paediatric COVID-19 vaccinations (ages five to 11) were well underway.
The press release from the county notes the Omicron variant is spreading quickly within the WDGPH region and is expected to replace Delta as the dominant variant by the end of the month.
“In early November we were hopeful that we were on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Warden Kelly Linton.
“Due to the spread of the Omicron variant in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and its uncertainty, the county’s state of emergency will remain in place.
“I continue to urge all residents to get vaccinated, get their booster shots as soon as they are eligible, and continue to follow guidance from [WDGPH].”
Mercer stated she is “grateful that the elected officials and staff of our municipalities continue to do everything they can to protect [local] residents.”
She aded, “The choice to keep the states of emergency in place is a choice to prioritize the health of the people in this region. It is a choice that will save lives.
“As the Omicron variant spreads through our region, all of us need to take the necessary steps and continue to make the tough choices that will help protect us and preserve our progress against this pandemic.”
The county declared a state of emergency on March 23, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration provides Linton the authority to take actions and make orders he considers to be “necessary to protect the health, safety, property and welfare of county residents,” the release states.
The state of emergency also delegates some additional authority to the county CAO Scott Wilson.
It has enabled the county to rapidly redeploy staff to assist at the Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home and in COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
The City of Guelph, which had also planned to end its state of emergency on Dec. 31, also announced on Tuesday that it would extend the measure.
“With the rise of the Omicron variant, revoking the state of emergency would be the wrong thing to do,” stated Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie.
“How fast things can change. Just a few weeks ago we were hopeful we would soon be looking at this pandemic in the rear-view mirror.”
He added, “A continued state of emergency will help ensure we can mobilize city resources as needed to step up the fight against this virus.”
Guthrie, too, urged all residents to get vaccinated (including booster shots) and continue to follow guidance from WDGPH.