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New guide to complement provincial COVID-19 policy

·3 min read

ST. MARY’S – In an effort to provide “concise content” that helps local residents and business owners keep abreast of provincial COVID-19 policy, municipal officials here have produced an 11-page St. Mary’s Community Guide to Phase 5.

The document, which is available online at the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s website, covers everything from personal responsibility, gathering limits and mask-wearing to suggested behaviours – such as hand washing and social distancing – and “what to do if someone is causing disturbances.”

Chief Administrative Officer David Hutten said the guide is designed to complement existing material available from the provincial government.

“We certainly understand the provincial role in Covid policy, and appreciate the many efforts they make on this front daily,” he said in a statement emailed to The Journal. “The government links are included in this document for further research, but the intent was to collect some important information and have this readily available on the local front.”

He added: “Like many local governments [we] face public inquiry and questions on a regular basis related to Covid policy. Our ambition is to simply offer concise content that helps local residents and business owners find answers to their questions or uncertainties.”

According to the guide, “This is a live document that may require revisions as time progresses... The details are subject to change based on direction from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health… This plan has been developed to assist our community to get back into social gatherings and events in our community as allowed by the province.”

A significant portion of the document concerns the application of provincial proof of vaccination (POV) policy – specifically, when and to whom the policy applies everywhere in the province, regardless of locality.

This includes sections on POV in the workplace, among volunteers and at long-term care facilities; in schools and “faith services”; at recreational and government facilities; and in business and other types of meetings.

The guide also contains sections on record keeping, exemptions, inspections, fines, grace periods and troubleshooting.

“Training in dealing with difficult patrons is recommended,” it advises under the header, What Can be Done if Someone is Causing a Disturbance, adding: “Skills Online NS offers courses in this. If required, you may call your local police should you need assistance.”

The measures specific to St. Mary’s include those pertaining to the use of the municipal office, transfer station and Recplex:

“Proof of full vaccination is not required to enter the municipal office… attend council meetings [or] to visit the municipal transfer station. [It] is required for use of the [municipal office] Community Room [and] to enter the St. Mary’s Recplex for individuals. Spectators [of Recplex events] must pre-register at the municipal office prior to the event they wish to attend. Participants who are under the age of 12 [and] whose care givers cannot enter the Recplex due to vaccination status may be dropped off at the door ready to participate in their activity.”

The document concludes with a Consent to Record Vaccination Status Form, which states that while businesses and organizations may ask for a person’s vaccination status, no one is required to give their consent. Furthermore, requesters may not keep a record “of the fact that [anyone] showed (or did not show) their proof of full vaccination.”

Said Hutten: “While Covid policy remains a provincial concern, we can recognize the important part that municipalities play in showing support to our provincial government and the many policies and mandates municipalities make to directly support provincial policy… As with anything, the broader coverage of information, the better for public knowledge.”

At a council meeting last week, Warden Greg Weir concurred.

“Personally, [I] think that we need to support the provincial government,” he told his fellow councillors. “They’re putting mandates in around the province. And, I think, that shows that they are doing the right thing and, I think, it’s our duty, by showing our support for them, to do the right thing as well.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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