Community partners, including Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson, issued a joint statement on Friday asking the people of Kingston to be kind to each other and to visitors from out of town.
The statement came after recent complaints to the city that people from out of town had been mistreated by some businesses who had denied them service amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not just kindness to visitors but it’s also kindness to other residents,” Paterson said.
Recently, the City of Kingston and KFL&A Public Health both released statements saying they have received complaints from some Kingstonians who expressed fear of visitors coming from outside the city, which they say has caused unwelcoming behaviour.
“I’ve heard of reports of people that have been turned away, denied service or haven’t been treated well because they have an out-of-province licence plate, so I think that was the driving force in this particular statement,” Paterson said.
Paterson did not specify which businesses turned away visitors.
Since Stage 2 of reopening began in Kingston, the city has made it clear that tourists are welcome in the area as many people begin to travel throughout the province this summer. However, some residents have expressed fears to the city that visitors may contribute to spreading the virus, though there is no evidence of this.
Despite COVID-19 still being present in Kingston, the medical officer of health for KFL&A, Dr. Kieran Moore, said the level of risk is very low right now.
“There are individuals that are going to be in our community from elsewhere who are here for work, studying, education and other purposes. They have a right to be in our community, treated with respect and dignity,” said Moore.
Kingston officials understand some are concerned about the further spread of the virus, but they want to reassure locals that the outbreak was caught early, which has helped to minimize the impact.
“There might be people that aren’t here from Kingston. But we can be safe and also be kind and hospitable. We can do all those things at the same time. There doesn’t have to be a tradeoff,” Paterson said.
City officials are still encouraging both locals and tourists to take proper precautions this summer, including wearing a mask indoors and practising social distancing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.