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City of Hamilton ends COVID-19 emergency declaration

The City of Hamilton has lifted it's COVID-19 emergency declaration. The action was implemented in unison with Ontario's declaration back on March 17, 2020 as the COVID pandemic began to impact the world. Will Erskine / Global News

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger has ended the city’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

The action was first declared in unison with Ontario’s state of emergency enacted on April 17, 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic first began.

A temporary order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) allowed municipalities the flexibility to deploy staff where they were needed to manage the city’s vital services.

Eisenberger said the measure was “not rescinded lightly” by the city and that the community still needs to be “aware and be vigilant” as it eases into a “normal state.”

The change means the city will return to in-person meetings, also offered in a hybrid format, on May 25 with committee meetings coming back on the week of May 30.

City advisory committees will also return the week of May 30 while full-on advisory committees will still be limited as staff work through the process of a full return.

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Read more: Ontario COVID numbers: 1,555 people in hospital, 188 in intensive care

The city’s mask mandate for its employees will also be lifted on May 25 with in-person public engagement allowed on the same day.

“I do want to recognize the importance of this moment,” Eisenberger said in a virtual media conference on Tuesday. “It’s taken us two and half years to get here.”

Public health epidemiologist Michelle Baird characterized the community’s current COVID situation as better having past the peak of transmission in the most recent wave.

Case numbers, the percentage of PCR tests coming back positive and wastewater signals continue to show declines in spread of COVID.

“Although transmission is decreasing, we are still in a pandemic,” said Baird.

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“But we are now in a phase where we are learning collectively what it means to live with COVID. This means we have a better understanding than we certainly did two years ago.”

Read more: John Tory ends Toronto’s COVID-19 emergency declaration

An offshoot of the 2020 order was the activation of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which will remain active, according to EOC boss Jason Thorne.

He says the agency will now continue with a monitoring role across the region.

“So what that means is … we’ll continue to meet as required and continue to liaise with our colleagues in public health to monitor the COVID situation and to maintain operational readiness,” Thorne said.

“But otherwise, city operations and decision making processes will be back to a pre-COVID situation.”

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