Both Haldimand and Norfolk counties declared a state of emergency for their regions on Tuesday.
The move comes days after the medical officer of health for both areas issued orders to limit gatherings and warned of large fines for returning travellers who don’t self-isolate.
Mayor Ken Hewitt of Haldimand and Norfolk County mayor Kristal Chopp can now take direct action on activities that are violating public health officials’ orders using provincial resources and emergency funding.
“While I have been in close communication with Mayor Chopp, declaring an emergency will allow both Haldimand & Norfolk counties to make quicker decisions, support our health team in a more expeditious manner and implement additional measures to protect the health & well-being of our communities,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Mayor Hewitt and I are in constant communication with each other and our shared Medical Officer of Health to ensure decision-making is timely and serves the best interests of Haldimand and Norfolk,” said Chopp.
On the weekend, Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, set a limit on how many residents can congregate in public spaces.
Nesathurai said gatherings cannot exceed 10 people, including visits to playgrounds, parks, piers and beaches.
He also warned of a $5,000-per-day fine for those caught at work or in the community without self-isolating for 14 days after returning from travel.
There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Haldimand or Norfolk counties.
However, both counties activated their emergency operations centres on Friday and set up care centres as a precaution at the Dunnville Memorial Arena and Port Dover Arena.