Kingston region officials ask province for more flexibility during coronavirus pandemic

Officials in the KFL&A Public Health catchment area are asking the province for more regional flexibility during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Kraig Krause / Global News

In a letter sent to the province Tuesday, the city of Kingston, along with Lennox and Addington County and KFL&A Public Health, asked the province for more regional powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Together we’re asking the province to consider a regional approach to the easing of restrictions in places where the COVID-19 situation is evolving differently than other parts of the province,” the letter, addressed to premier Doug Ford, read.

Medical officer of health for KFL&A Public Health Dr. Kieran Moore, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, Napanee Warden Marg Isbester and County of Frontenac Warden Frances Smith all signed off on the letter sent to Ford, which was attached to a proposal of how the regional allowances would work.

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The province recently laid out a framework for reopening sections of the economy and certain amenities after weeks of lockdown in Ontario.

Despite lauding the premier’s reopening plan, the three local politicians and Moore felt due to the region’s low numbers — with only 61 total cases, no deaths and only three active cases as of Tuesday — that the KFL&A region might benefit from more regional control over COVID-19 restrictions.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ford criticizes some regional medical officers over testing'
Coronavirus outbreak: Ford criticizes some regional medical officers over testing

“A regionalized approach enables real-time evaluation activities at a smaller, more nimble scale. In turn, with regional evaluation measures in place, we will collect rapid feedback related to specific easing activities and inform risk assessments,” the letter read.

In a tweet sent out late in the day on Tuesday, Paterson noted that the province’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to COVID-19 regulations might not benefit the KFL&A region, which has seen far fewer cases than larger urban centres.

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“I’m hearing from more and more residents and businesses that are anxious to reopen, because our COVID infections peaked nearly a month ago,” Paterson said.

Considering that social distancing restrictions will most likely be in place until a vaccine is readily available, Paterson argued that it seems reasonable to allow municipalities to gauge how their own community is dealing with the pandemic, and act upon those local conditions.

The request is not only to allow for quicker reopening of the economy, Paterson argued, noting that if a second wave hit locally before the province, that KFL&A Public Health an regional municipalities could act quickly to reimpose restrictions, rather than waiting for the province to make a move.

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Paterson said the request was based off of advice from Moore.

More information to come…

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