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Newmarket lifts pandemic state of emergency

Move comes 17 months after emergency first declared, though mayor cautions we aren't out of the woods yet
20200318 newmarket council social distancing
Newmarket council members are shown here March 18, 2020 practising physical distancing at an emergency meeting over COVID-19 at the municipal office. File photo/NewmarketToday

After 17 months of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Newmarket has officially lifted its state of emergency.

The municipality announced today, Aug. 9, that it would end its emergency measures, originally enacted March 18, 2020. The state of emergency gave the mayor and municipality the ability to declare emergency orders, but now any such measures will have to go through council instead of just getting mayoral approval.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor justified the move by noting York Region’s vaccination rates, with more than 81 per cent of eligible residents having at one dose of vaccine and more than 73 per cent at two doses.

“Through the state of emergency, staff were able to pivot, adapt and rise to the challenge that COVID-19 has presented us with. I am very proud of our community for following health and safety protocols and all that we have accomplished,” Taylor said.

The municipality said there is a positive outlook in case counts locally, with four active as of Aug. 6 and 18 of the last 30 days without new cases. 

However, cases are rising across the province and in York Region. Taylor said lifting the state of emergency does not mean it will not come back if needed to address the pandemic.

“This doesn’t mean we are out of the woods just yet,” Taylor said. “Let me be clear, if a fourth wave of COVID-19 materializes and is significant enough, we won’t hesitate to re-enact the order.”

The town said although it is deactivating its emergency operations centre, its recovery team is meeting to discuss the gradual reopening of municipal facilities.

Taylor urged residents to stay vigilant, follow public health measures, and get vaccinated.

“The pandemic and the delta variant are still a concern, and now is not the time to forget the simple practices that will keep us from a fourth wave,” Taylor said. “Together, we can, and we will end this pandemic if we all do our part.”