'You'll be having Easter dinner by yourself:' Timmins mayor issues warning to residents
TIMMINS -- As each day gets closer to the worst-case scenario for Timmins, Mayor George Pirie is not wasting any time reminding people to take the state of emergency seriously.
Pirie says by May 1, the projected number of COVID-19 cases for Timmins alone could reach 1,553 if residents don't follow all the recommendations and rules put in place to prevent the novel coronavirus from infecting too many people.
With the holiday weekend coming up, Pirie is asking residents to take measures seriously.
"This is not a normal Easter. If you're living by yourself, you will be having Easter dinner by yourself. You won't be having Easter dinner with your friends, your family, your aunts, your cousins, your uncles. You will be having Easter dinner with those that you have been in the closest contact with," said the mayor. "If you need something for your Easter dinner, get it done logically and methodically."
He warns that the lineups that typically happen on a day before a long weekend "won't be tolerated."
By-law officers will be visiting all places offering essential services to enforce that and other rules.
City Clerk Steph Palmateer says City of Timmins Enforcement Services is "providing some education and requesting that these businesses comply with the orders as issued by the province of Ontario during this state of emergency."
The city will also continue to crack down on backyard and dinner parties. Pirie says police constables are responding to these prohibited gatherings of more than five people outside of your immediate family.
"That behaviour has to stop," he says.
The Ontario Court of Justice has set fines in place and for businesses, corporations and people breaking the law during the state of emergency and they can be charged. For individuals, fines range from $750 to $1,000.
"Our initial enforcement stance has been focussed on education and a warning-based approach," explains Timmins Police Chief John Gauthier. "Should it become clear that our initial stance is not yielding the intended compliance or result, a more stern approach will be taken by the Timmins Police Service to remedy the situation and mitigate the overall effect of the pandemic."
Porcupine Health Unit officials are also asking people to limit travel between communities surrounding the Timmins area and to avoid other places with high numbers of COVID-19.
On Monday, the health unit reported one new case in Timmins, a woman in her 70's who had close contact with another confirmed case.
It's also confirmed an inmate at the Monteith Correctional Complex, near Iroquois Falls, has COVID-19.
"MCC (Monteith Correctional Complex) has maintained operational protocols related to infection prevention and control and has taken all appropriate steps to protect staff and other inmates," states Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Porcupine Health Unit area has reached 31, eight of which have been resolved, and two deaths. Health officials say the newest case is a Timmins woman in her 40's who was in close contact with another case is now in self-isolation.
Despite the situation and strict tone from authorities, Mayor Pirie believes his grandchildren will be able to tell their children a success story about how the City of Timmins managed during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
"This is our crisis, collectively, we have to get through it together," said Pirie.