Municipal buildings in Muskoka Lakes will have new covid regulations moving forward.
On November 10th the provincial government announced changes to reopening plans and loosening of capacity restrictions. This included keeping restrictions on higher risk settings including event spaces.
In response to this change in provincial regulations Muskoka Lakes has adjusted its re-opening plan for municipal venues. Community centres, arenas and other municipal buildings will have to have a staff member present to verify covid vaccination status.
At Muskoka Lakes Council on November 10th Director of Public Works Ken Becking was on hand to give information on what these new regulations would look like. He informed council that the majority of restrictions had been reduced as long as participants could show proof of vaccination.
“We’re open for business as long as people are vaccinated and they wear their mask,” said Becking.
On the subject of event spaces and community centres Becking told council that municipal employees would have to screen every person that enters. According to Becking this will be difficult as currently there are not enough employees for the job.
“Our resources don’t exist at the present time to cover that. But we are making adjustments as we speak in order to try and accommodate the same requirements apply to our arenas,” Becking said.
Becking also said that he has been in communication on the new regulations with the Vice President of the health unit and that “It couldn’t be more explicit in terms of what the expectation is.”
Councillor Gordon Roberts cited the difficulty of finding workers in Muskoka to fill these screening positions.
“We’re really caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Roberts
Also discussed was the potential of Muskoka Lakes Council returning to in person meetings. In the staff report the Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended that council meetings remain virtual until possibly 2022.
Councillor Kelley spoke in support of council meeting in person as soon as possible, citing the mental health of councillors and staff.
“I do think we need to move back into life pre COVID. For the mental health particularly the emotional health and relationship health of all the people that work in our organization and counsel as well,” Kelley said.
Councillor Glenn Zavitz said that he supports the recommendation but wants council to begin meeting in person as soon as possible.
“I want to be cautious, careful, safe, but I also think we need to get back to business,” said Zavitz
Mayor Phil Harding responded to Councillor Zavitz comments supporting the work that council and staff have done throughout the pandemic.
“This council has never stopped doing business. I’m actually amazed at the amount of work that has gone on for the last 18 months,” Harding went on to say, “I don’t think it’s totally fair. Just put a stake in the ground that we are not working and we have not gone back to business. We’re in a different type of business.”
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