Dear residents of the Pontiac,
Last Thursday, François Legault, Premier of Quebec, made some important announcements in regards to the COVID-19 situation across the province. As the number of cases of the Omicron variant are rising exponentially, several precautionary measures have been put in place as of today, December 20th, in order to limit the spread of the virus during the holiday season. Earlier today, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Christian Dubé announced additional measures in order to further curb the spread of the virus in the coming weeks. The new measures effective today are as follows:
- Effective December 21, 2021, elementary and high schools will be closed, except for immunization and rapid test delivery. All extracurricular activities will be suspended and the return to school will be delayed to January 10, 2022. Please refer to the official communications coming from the school boards for further instruction. Child care services will remain open;
- All bars, taverns, theatres, gyms and concert venues must close as of 5 p.m. today;
- Teleworking, where possible, is now mandatory;
- Capacity is now reduced by 50% in shops, restaurants, and several other types of establishments. Dancing and karaoke are strictly prohibited. Restaurants can only be open between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., except for door-to-door deliveries;
- A proof of vaccination will now be required in places of worship and capacity has been reduced by 50% with a maximum of 250 people;
- For weddings and funerals, it is possible to hold a ceremony without a vaccine passport with a maximum of 25 people;
- Visitors and caregivers in residential and long-term care centers (CHSLDs) and private residences for the elderly (RPA) are now required to show a proof of vaccination before entering;
- Tournaments and sports competitions are suspended until further notice.
For any additional information on the COVID-19 measures, please visit this link: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/measures-in-force/about-the-measures-in-force
In terms of the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the interval between the last dose and the booster dose has been reduced to three months. As of today, Dec. 20th, all people over the age of 65 can book their appointment and as of Dec. 27th, the age group from 60-64 will then be opened. In order to accelerate the delivery of the booster dose, several efforts are being made to increase vaccine capacity. The goal is to be able to administer up to 600,000 doses per week by January. At this time, priority is given to our health care workers and our most vulnerable people. All other age groups will be vaccinated as soon as possible thereafter. I highly encourage everyone to book their appointments whenever they are made available. Even if you have not received your first dose yet, it is not too late. In order to protect our elderly and most vulnerable citizens, we must work together to get the Pontiac properly vaccinated.
As the COVID-19 Omicron variant is starting to take a hold across the province, I want to stress the importance of limiting your contacts and strictly following public safety measures during this holiday season. Please continue to wear high quality masks, keeping your distance with others and regularly washing your hands. If you are feeling unwell, please get tested and do not leave your home until you receive a negative test result. In order to get through this phase of the pandemic, the whole Pontiac must continue to work together to minimize our contacts and help keep the virus contained. I want to send a clear message to all residents that the rise of cases is very concerning, but we can get this situation under control if we all work together. Do not get discouraged, we will get through this but we must continue to be vigilant in order to protect our communities.
Last week, we held the last sitting of the TNO council and the Regional Council of Mayors of 2021. One of the highlights of the meeting was a presentation by Joann McCann of the Fort-William Cottagers’ Association about the issue of the proposed CNL surface nuclear disposal facility near the Ottawa River. It was resolved by council to adopt a resolution to urge the federal government to move the proposed facility to a site as far away from the river as possible and that the Director General write to the federal Minister of Natural Resources about this issue. Another highlight was a resolution to purchase lights using the remaining budget of the Waterway so that the municipalities having municipal docks and boat ramps can install them to guide the users on the Ottawa River or lakes in complete safety. These lights will be identical with a uniform color, such as blue or purple, so that users will recognize them throughout the MRC Pontiac as a safe spot when travelling by watercraft or by snowmobile on the waterway. Another highlight of the meeting was the adoption of the draft Waste Management Plan, which the MRC’s environment department has worked very hard on.
As you may have seen in the local news, on Thursday, Dec. 16th, a press conference was held to announce the official reopening of the Félix-Gabriel-Marchand bridge in Mansfield. I am so proud that Pontiac residents are once again able to enjoy this historic bridge. I was delighted to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, and wanted to point out the fact that Mr. Raymond Durocher, my predecessor as Warden of the Pontiac, would have been so proud to see this bridge reopened. In 2017, he was there when the renovation project was initially announced, and I know in my heart that he was with us in spirit at the official reopening last week.
Lastly, I want to wish every one of you a safe and healthy Christmas. It is my hope that you will all find time to rest and recover during this difficult time in our lives and to spend some quality time with your families. Hopefully, we can all look to 2022 with bright hope for a better year. If you have any concerns or questions about COVID-19 over the holidays please feel free to call me at 819-647-8198. Thank you, together Pontiac!