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UPDATE: March 3, 2021 Statement from Mayor Steve Clarke re: Grey – Lockdown in Simcoe Muskoka

Posted on Wednesday March 03, 2021

Throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Orillia has taken its lead from the Province of Ontario and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU). We know that information and data on the COVID-19 virus changes rapidly, and what we know one week can be drastically different from the next. 

We understand and appreciate this has been an extremely challenging year for many of our local businesses and the recent decision by the Province of Ontario, based on the recommendation by Dr. Charles Gardner, to move our area into Grey - Lockdown exacerbated these challenges.  

As a small business owner in our community, I understand that the restrictions associated with the lockdown measures in place, which are designed to keep our community safe, have resulted in an unbelievably tough situation, especially for our business community. 

As Mayor and as a resident of Orillia, I recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. I want to assure businesses in Orillia that many conversations are taking place at different levels of government and with stakeholders to share the concerns we are hearing from you and to ask for a data-driven approach to decision making. Such conversations have included discussions around the possibility of a different colour designation with adjusted restrictions if necessary, as well as a change to geographic boundaries to more accurately reflect Orillia’s specific case count.    

Dr. Gardner’s top priority is the health and safety of Simcoe-Muskoka communities. He made his Grey - Lockdown recommendation to the Province based on a 30% rise in weekly cases with over half of those cases being the U.K. B117 variant. Simcoe Muskoka has more confirmed cases of the U.K variant and positive screens for a variant of concern (VOC) than any other health unit in the province. 

We have seen the catastrophic impact the variant had at Roberta Place in Barrie and heard first-hand from our hospital CEO about the devastation of this variant on the families involved and on frontline healthcare workers. There are a number reasons the measures are in place including preventing deaths and not overwhelming our health care system where our dedicated health care professionals are already exhausted.  We must keep in mind that on top of their regular duties, they have the added responsibilities of Roberta Place, other long-term care centres, the Assessment Centre and now the Vaccination Centre. 

Should we continue to see a decrease in case counts and a more positive outlook pertaining to the VOCs, we anticipate the SMDHU and the Province will quickly move us into a less restrictive colour zone. Staying the course and adhering to public health measures will help move us into the Red or Orange– Control zone sooner and help us on our path to recovery. 

The City’s Emergency Management Committee, Economic Recovery Task Force, Council and staff continue to work diligently with our partners to support and provide services to the community during these unprecedented times. 

Orillia residents and businesses have done a fantastic job navigating this pandemic and supporting one another throughout its entirety. We understand that resilience and motivation to remain positive is becoming more of a challenge, but we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. That light is now closer and brighter with vaccination clinics underway and the rollout of the vaccine in our community.  Let’s not undo all the hard work we’ve put in to keeping our community safe. 

Stay safe and take care of one another. 

- Mayor Steve Clarke



Mayor Steve Clarke

Jennifer Ruff
Director of Business Development and Communications