Haliburton County declares state of emergency
By Jenn Watt
Update (March 18, 4 p.m.): Since the this article was first published, information has been updated regarding emergency measures in the Municipality of Dysart et al. New information is in italics below.
Responding to efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, on Wednesday, March 18, the County of Haliburton declared a state of emergency.
“The County of Haliburton is making this declaration as a proactive step for potential access to resources from other levels of government as this situation evolves, ensuring better preparedness for our community overall,” Liz Danielsen, county warden.
Essential services such as paramedic services and the roads department will continue to operate.
The county administrative office is closed to the public, however, staff is available by phone during business hours at 705-286-1333.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Township of Minden Hills also issued a state of emergency. On Wednesday afternoon, Highlands East advised that its Emergency Response Centre had been activated.
All Highlands East facilities including the municipal office and sub-offices are closed to the public, but staff can be reached by phone. Highlands East council meetings and advisory committees have been postponed.
The Municipality of Dysart et al decided on March 16 that it would close its arena, museum, West Guilford Community Centre and Harcourt Community Centre. A statement from Mayor Andrea Roberts said that council and committees would continue to meet until further notice, but that delegations would be cancelled to keep the gathering small enough to allow social distancing.
Roberts's statement said that the municipal office in Dysart et al would remain open, but visitors would be screened prior to entering council chambers.
On March 18, Dysart et al released a statement informing the public that its Emergency Management Control Group had been activated and had made the decision to close the administrative office to the public as of 4:30 p.m. The council meeting planned for March 24 will still go ahead, but with a limited agenda and no delegations. Committee meetings are to be postponed.
Many Dysart et al staff are working remotely and connected by email and phone. Tax payments can be made online through financial institutions, in-person at the bank or using the mail slot on the main entrance (envelopes should contain payment stub or roll number so staff can credit the right account).
Dysart et al roads operations will continue and volunteer firefighters continue to respond to calls, however they will take extra safety precautions. Landfills will operate with regular hours, but cash will not be accepted. Credit and debit cards are accepted at Haliburton and West Guilford landfills only.
Read all of the details in Dysart's statement here.
The Township of Algonquin Highlands has also closed its administrative office.
"Our first priority is for the protection of the public and staff," the Algonquin Highlands release reads. "The public can be assured that essential services will be retained as best as possible. Our fire services will continue to operate at full capacity with appropriate precautions in place."