Perth cancels maple festival, braces for COVID-19 impact

Perth Mayor John Fenik
Perth Mayor John Fenik explains the town’s emergency measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic at a meeting on Tuesday, March 24. Photo credit: Emilie Must.
Posted on: March 25, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, the town of Perth has enacted emergency measures to protect residents. 

“In the last couple of weeks since COVID-19 ramped up…we are going to lose businesses. This is not going to be a two week thing,” Perth Mayor John Fenik said. 

Perth council voted in favour of waiving all interest and penalties for late payments of property taxes and water bills for the next six months at the Tuesday, March 24 meeting. 

“I don’t want to declare a state of emergency just to declare a state of emergency,” Mayor Fenik said. “If the capacities in the hospital are exceeded, then I would declare a state of emergency.”

The Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital now has a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre at the Smiths Falls site every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Patients have to be referred by their family doctor or a nurse practitioner through public health. 

“Front line workers have been working incredibly hard for what they expect to be an influx of patients because of COVID-19,” Mayor Fenik said. “I pray that it does not turn out to be worse as than think it will.”

Councillor Judy Brown told council that 30 downtown businesses have laid off 199 people since the COVID-19 outbreak began. 

“It paints a horrible picture,” Brown added. “Our downtown will no longer be full.” 

Mayor Fenik told fellow councillors that he’s received hundreds of emails about the impact on community members.

“The emails are quite heartbreaking and I expect we’ll see more of that,” Mayor Fenik added. “This is not going to be a quick fix. It’s going to be around for a long time.”

Mayor Fenik announced that the annual Festival of the Maples is cancelled. The Perth and District Chamber of Commerce relies on the festival, which was supposed to be held April 25, to bring in 25 per cent of its revenue. 

“The whole idea of social distancing is flattening the curve and the impact it will have on our healthcare system,” Mayor Fenik said. “I’m asking Perth citizens to come together and look out for each other. 

Councillor Brown urges Perth residents to support the food bank by donating through their website www.thetablecfc.org

“I can see there being a far greater impact on the food bank,” Brown said. 

“I know this is a hard time for everybody, but there are some people with a stable income.” 

All council meetings from April to August 2020 will be held via teleconference and the meetings will begin at 5 p.m.

Article by Emilie Must

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