While the District of Muskoka has seen a fraction of the COVID-19 cases experienced in Simcoe County, it will join its southern neighbour in going into the control-red tier of COVID response as of 12:01 a.m. Monday. This has the mayor of Bracebridge expressing his disappointment.
“We certainly wish the best for all regions in Ontario, but the reality is that Muskoka and Simcoe are two very different places separated by a fairly vast amount of geography,” Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith told Barrie 360 Friday. “I think a further examination of micro-targeting is warranted.”
To date, Simcoe County has seen 2,478 cases of COVID-19, while Muskoka has experienced just 106. “You know, it doesn’t seem like the most fair strategy perhaps, for those communities that are not suffering quite as much,” added Smith. “We’re heading into winter and wintertime in Muskoka is a very slow time with very limited cash flow for businesses. So every dollar that they can’t make during the Christmas season is going to be very hard to replace.”
Despite the fact Muskoka can claim just 4 percent of all the cases reported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Mayor Smith says it doesn’t appear the region will be able to convince the powers that be to give the region a pass. “I think we’ve already had that conversation. And the answer looks like it’s no,” he concluded. “I don’t think that means that we won’t continue to work with the province, but I’m not expecting a different outcome.”
John Klinck, District Chair of Muskoka, says they are going to have to live with the decision.
“It doesn’t seem appropriate for us to be moved into the red zone given the community’s performance and commitment. You know, we have to remember that we rely on our public health officials to steer us and guide us in the right direction.”
Klinck says the medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka was very sympathetic about the situation and whether the District could avoid a red tag.
“Dr. Gardner talked amongst his colleagues and also spoke to the provincial authorities and they didn’t feel it was a good idea just because of the nature of the proximity and the closeness.”
Klinck says the decision to put Muskoka in the red zone is frustrating.
“Our businesses have done an exceptionally great job and have made the necessary adjustments to their business practices and protocols. We’ve done very well.”