NORTH PERTH – Mayor Todd Kasenberg kicked off the North Perth council meeting on April 12 with a special message to residents concerning COVID-19.
“Our community again is experiencing a shutdown,” he said. “I want to first acknowledge that our community continues to be actively engaged in the work of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and its variants which are beginning to spread throughout Ontario and the world.”
Kasenberg suggested the community needs to put a bit more effort into the range of personal actions that can help calm the spread and impacts in the community.
“I have personally noticed a high compliance with mask-wearing in public spaces although the occasional lapses do concern me,” he said.
He then referred to mask-wearing as the ‘bronze medal category’ of the efforts people should be making.
“Our silver metal effort is when we diligently maintain two metres of distance from others not of our household,” said Kasenberg. “Two metres is actually quite a bit of space – when two people both fully extend their arms towards each other that is generally still not two metres. The virus is airborne so keeping that space keeps it away from our respiratory intake.”
Through his observations in public spaces in North Perth, he believes people need to do better at two-metre distancing from each other.
“The gold medal goes to those who stay home and who don’t mix their households with others,” said Kasenberg. “This is the surest path to safety. I am uncertain about our performance on this matter.”
He said he has seen too many cars congregating in front of homes, especially over the Easter weekend.
“While that does not necessarily mean that we are offering a sub-gold performance,” he said. “It seems likely when the car burden is not usual.”
Kasenberg said residents who can stay home should stay home.
“If we can work from home we should be doing that,” he said. “We need to plan our grocery shopping trips better so that we are not in and out of grocery stores multiple times per week.”
Unless it is for a service call, Kasenberg said people should not be welcoming visitors into their homes.
“As well I have clearly observed a weak commitment to hand hygiene on entering those stores that are open,” he said. “We need to clean our hands. It is not only a great practice but an indicator that we are on board with the other COVID-19 precautions.”
Kasenberg admitted he, like most people, is tired of dealing with the pandemic.
“I haven’t been in the same physical space with one of my sons for more than 16 months and it’s hard,” he said. “I’ve been in the same physical space with the other throughout the pandemic. That too has its hard moments.”
Kasenberg admitted to questioning whether another lockdown is broadly called for or whether it should have been narrowly applied.
“I at times wonder if there aren’t other measures to be considered like stopping movement from area to area which essentially creates vectors,” he said.
“I was on record calling for the province to show more of the data it is collecting about case tracing and sources of outbreak.”
The province has recently released some of that information and Kasenberg believes it caused the outcry from many people about efforts to shut down in-restaurant dining, gyms and hair salons given the low apparent incidence of cases from those sources.
“But reservations or not we are squarely here,” he said. “Our task now is to buck up and do our part so that we don’t see more of these lockdowns which are harming our small business economy.”
Kasenberg encouraged residents to remember that they live in a community and that with that arrangement comes various responsibilities.
“We have been instructed by the province to keep to strict gathering limits during this shutdown and I am pledged to say that we will comply,” he said. “What will make this period tolerable is if we are kind, compassionate and even hopeful. We, each of us, need to renew our commitments to winning gold, silver and bronze medals in this period. We need to do our part to support our community’s experience.”
He ended his message by making a small suggestion to the community in the public domain that residents, as many as are able, reach out to support the businesses most harmed by the new shutdown.
“While there are many businesses affected, obvious ones in the retail space are restaurants, hair salons and personal care services and gyms,” said Kasenberg. “I want to suggest that each of us digs a little bit this month and gives the cost plus any tip for personal care services and gym membership to your favourite local business in those fields.”
He pointed out that he needs a haircut in April and that he won’t be able to get it.
“But, I can give the cash value of that to a local salon as a gift,” said Kasenberg. “Pay for your month’s membership to the gym of your choice even if you can’t go to it. Order takeout. I’m calling it #virtualhaircut and #virtualworkout. “
He said he is fine if people want to mutter about “Mayor Todd’s voluntary haircut tax” but he still encourages residents to help businesses get through this month.
“They are so tired. It would be so easy for them to throw in the towel. Let’s not let this happen. I have faith in this community. We are so able to overcome. Let us continue to do so,” said Kasenberg.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner