Just like the general public in Ontario, Cobourg Councillors are confused when it comes to interpreting the rules of the latest Provincial shutdown that apply to such things as the outdoor rink and the Transit system. Town Clerk Brent Larmer said that until he gets the official Regulations from the Province, he cannot give clear advice – that is, he can’t say what the “rules” are. He hopes to get those regulations no later than when they go into effect which is midnight Wednesday January 13. Because of the confusion CAO Tracey Vaughan asked for direction from a specially convened emergency session of Council held at 6:00 pm on the 13th. In the end, all that could be decided was to close the rink for a few days and limit transit hours.
It seems that the only thing that’s clear is that outdoor groups are now limited to 5 instead of the previous 10 – and even that’s not clear. In the context of the outdoor rink, skating is allowed since it’s exercise – but are non-skating supervising parents allowed and do they count as part of the 5? And are monitoring constables and staff counted as part of the 5? And will people walking to the rink get a ticket for non-essential activity? And as Councillor Adam Bureau pointed out, since the rules are not yet known, how can Council decide on what to do/allow? As Mayor Henderson remarked “We have a lot of grey areas.” One thing was clear: Councillors were keen to keep the rink open to allow for people to exercise. Whatever is decided, the Rink would need to be closed for a period to allow reconfiguring – for example for groups to be reduced in size and those with existing bookings to be advised.
After considerable debate, Councillors Darling and Chorley moved a motion that would close the Rink immediately with a re-opening at 10:00 am Saturday with the proviso that this would be subject to possible change by the Emergency Control Group as regulation documents were made available. Apart from hours and group size, there is also the question of possible other rules such as masks for everyone while on the rink as well as social distancing. The motion passed.
Update – Jan 15
On Friday, the Town announced that the rink would re-open Saturday but with the only new rule being that masks must be worn while skating.
Three options were suggested by Staff:
Note that currently full Transit Hours are scheduled to start 26 January and current operating hours are less than that.
Option 1: Conventional and Wheels transit hours remain the same as currently operating OR
Option 2: Conventional transit hours remain the same as currently operating and Wheels transit hours be reduced to summer operating hours (Monday to Friday 6:45 am to 5:30 pm, Saturday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, no Sunday service) OR
Option 3: THAT Conventional transit resume regular operating hours as of January 26th per Council’s January 11 resolution and Wheels service continues operating at current service levels.
The deciding factor was that businesses must now close no later than 8:00 pm and workers at those businesses may rely on Transit to get home. My hearing is not 100% but I heard that Council simply voted to stop Wheels service at 5:45 pm. There was no other motion on Transit but I think the intent was Option 2 but with an earlier stop for Wheels. (Transit details – as best as can be determined – are available here. Update: Hours shown on this page are now confirmed – 15 Jan.
According to the Province, this new shutdown is in effect until February 11 (at least).
Since the ECG may change some of the details, come back to this page for updates as they happen (re Rink and Transit only) or go to the “Covid-19 in Cobourg” page here for the latest updates.