TIMMINS -- After a long winter, people in Timmins typically look forward to the Victoria Day long weekend to go away camping or to their cottages and have family and friends over for barbecues and parties.

But this year, the city is in a state of emergency due to the high number of active COVID-19 cases.

Mayor George Pirie declared the emergency to the public, Monday afternoon.

“The fundamental thing that it changes is it allows us to ask the province to declare us as a hotspot,” Pirie told reporters.

“What it does is, it says to the province, listen this community is in a bad spot when it comes to the infections we need to pay special attention and we need to divert whatever attention and whatever resources we can to assist local officials to deal with it," Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson said Tuesday.

Medical officer of health, Dr. Lianne Catton said she supports the declaration as she is concerned about the high number of positive COVID cases in the health unit’s jurisdiction. She said so far, about 54 per cent of the population is vaccinated, but that’s not enough.

In an effort to increase the vaccination rate, the health unit is hosting walk-in Pfizer clinics this weekend for anyone over the age of 12.

“So these are first-dose clinics and we definitely welcome anyone and everyone who’s eligible and ready to consent for a vaccine to show up and we will vaccinate you and continue on our way to community protection,” Catton said.

One walk-in clinic will be held at Food Basics grocery store on Friday and the other will be at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre on Saturday.

Catton said the health unit is also planning to establish a system to support people who are ill with COVID, allowing them to isolate away from home, in a hotel for example.