Perth County municipalities declare a state of emergency

Perth County Coat of Arms, part of the preliminary design for the new County tartan. (Photo by Victor Young)

Perth County and some of its member municipalities have declared a state of emergency.

On Thursday at 9:30 a.m., Perth County Warden Jim Aitcheson, Perth South’s Mayor Bob Wilhelm, Perth East’s Mayor Rhonda Ehgoetz and West Perth’s Mayor Walter McKenzie made the declaration in response to COVID-19.

Warden Aitcheson said the decision to declare an emergency is not taken lightly, but they want to be proactive in the fight against COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of individuals and families.

“With the recent confirmation of a COVID-19 case and evidence that the virus is circulating unknowingly, we are taking this public health situation seriously. We need to make some difficult decisions moving forward to continue to effectively and efficiently respond to the situation in our municipalities. The health and safety of all of our communities, residents, and employees are a top priority” said Mayor Rhonda Ehgoetz.

Declarations of emergency are made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act when an emergency requires immediate action to prevent, reduce or mitigate danger of major proportions.

The declaration was made for the following reasons:
It can raise awareness of the seriousness of COVID-19 and demonstrate to their residents that the municipality is taking the current situation seriously, and is taking every step that they can to protect them from the threat;
A declaration of emergency provides the Head of Council the authority to take actions or make orders, which are not contrary to law, in order to protect the inhabitants in the area of the emergency;
To protect volunteers that may be called to assist;
To preserve the rights of the Municipality for future compensation should it become available;
To ensure the organization can quickly respond to other unforeseen events should they arise.

“This morning the County of Perth along with the Townships of Perth South and Perth East and the Municipality of West Perth made the mutual decision to declare emergencies in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Warden Aitcheson.

All municipalities will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be making all appropriate changes as necessary.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 by visiting the Huron Perth Public Health Unit website: www.hpph.ca/en/index.aspx

All municipalities urge residents to stay home, to practice physical distancing, and to practice proper hygiene protocols outlined by the Provincial Medical Officer of Health: www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus.

Follow the Public Health Agency of Canada Outbreak Update:
www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html