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Mayor ‘seriously considering’ revoking state of emergency

Points to rising vaccination rates, fewer active cases but concerned about what will happen when school resumes
20200617 cam guthrie ts
Cam Guthrie votes during an online council meeting.

Mayor Cam Guthrie is “seriously considering” revoking the city’s state of emergency declared early in the pandemic.

“It’s certainly something I want to do. It just has to be the right time to do it and I think that right time is very close,” he said, pointing to the “key factors” of vaccination rates and active COVID-19 caseloads. “There’s a lot of moving parts with this decision, a lot of moving parts.”

Though the declaration’s impact is largely administrative in nature – it granted CAO Scott Stewart the authority to make prompt purchasing and other decisions intended to protect the public, as well as to reassign city staff from their standard duties – it also illustrates the seriousness of the situation to the public, Guthrie noted.

“When a mayor says we’re in a state of emergency, people’s ears perk up,” he said. “Based on the trends that I am seeing both in incident rates, vaccination rates, and still the seriousness that the community is taking the pandemic, even with all that good news, it is something I think we are moving toward having that rescinded.”

As of Friday morning, there were 14 active COVID-19 cases reported in Guelph, with nearly 71 per cent of eligible Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph residents fully vaccinated, having received two doses.

The city’s state of emergency was declared on March 26, 2020, three days after the County of Wellington and its seven member municipalities did the same. 

Guthrie said he began contemplating revoking the emergency order about a month ago but decided against it at that time due to the prevalence of the Delta variant, which spreads more quickly, in nearby Waterloo and Peel regions.

“Guelph is right in the middle,” he said. “I was cautious to see how that was playing out.”

Since then it has been a regular topic of conversation with public health officials, city administration and others, the mayor added, noting those discussions are taking place about “every other day” at the moment.

“I take it very, very seriously. I certainly don’t want to be revoking something and then having to reinstate it,” he said, referring to potential surges. “I want to get our city to a position where, when it is revoked, we’re never going back because it’s all positive from there on out.”

One of the questions lingering at the moment is how the anticipated return to in-class learning in September will impact caseloads, Guthrie said. 

Some other municipalities are emerging from their states of emergency, such as Ottawa and Aurora, but that’s not an influence factor in Guthrie’s mind.

“Every public health unit has different scenarios that are playing out in their communities,” he said. “Just because a neighbouring city or another city in Ontario, another mayor is making those decisions does not mean it’s the right decision for Guelph.”