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Hamilton COVID-19 reopening plan unveiled

Hamilton COVID-19 reopening plan unveiled

At next week’s meeting of City Council, members will get a first look at City staff’s plan to re-open the city. The document is a high-level plan with no start dates, since the re-opening of every city will be determined by the province. The tone of the document, however points to a long recovery period of “many Months’ duration. Significantly the document says Hamilton’s transit system may have sustained permanent after-effects from the lock-down.

The delivery of public transit will be fundamentally changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the measures put in place to help keep customers and operators safe during the emergency, and to ensure physical distancing on buses, has dramatically decreased the capacity of our transit system. A reduced level of service and significantly lower ridership, combined with customers choosing different ways to move around our city without having to be close to others, means public transit has been changed – potentially forever. As we look to the future, our service plans and strategies for delivering public transit will need to be adjusted to the demands of customers and our community.

The broad outline of the three phases of reopening follow:

HAMILTON REOPENS PHASES

The Hamilton Reopens plan includes three overarching phases, each aligning generally with the Province of Ontario’s Reopening Framework.

Through each phase, the health and safety of residents and City staff will be the primary focus, continuing to balance the needs of the community, City Council and municipal business.

Reopening Hamilton will be gradual, safe and measured.

The City will follow the lead of the Province of Ontario and take direction from the provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health, our local Medical Officer of Health and other public health officials. Advice from these professionals will determine the speed that we proceed through the phases of reopening and will help to determine if health and safety measures need to be adjusted at any time. No dates are referenced for any of the phases.

Everyday actions to protect the health of residents and City staff – like physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home if you are sick – will continue through each phase.

Phase One – The Early Stages

Phase One of Hamilton Reopens is focused on delivering the highest priority municipal services. During Phase One, City operations will look like:

• All municipal facilities and offices remain closed to the public

• Recreation programs and events remain cancelled

• Limited return to the workplace for staff delivering high-priority services

• Limited return to the workplace for staff working alone or in small groups outdoors

• Many staff continue to work from home

• Staff who were redeployed to support COVID-19 emergency response efforts will continue in their temporary positions

• Restrictions on the number of people gathering to follow Provincial Orders

• Some outdoor municipal amenities are open to the public

• Many City services are available online

Phase Two – Gradual Recovery

Phase Two of Hamilton Reopens is focused on safely expanding the municipal services available to residents and returning more staff to work. During Phase Two, City operations will look like:

• Some municipal facilities and offices reopen to the public with measures to enable physical distancing and health screening upon entry

• Most recreation programming and events remain cancelled

• Where required, staff will return to the workplace under enhanced health and safety guidelines with strict adherence to physical distancing, health screening upon entry, and restrictions on gatherings

• Many staff continue to work from home

• Staff who were redeployed to support COVID-19 emergency response efforts will continue in their temporary positions

• Restrictions on the number of people gathering to follow Provincial Orders

• Most outdoor municipal amenities are open to the public

• Many City services are available both online and in person with enhanced health and safety measures in place for staff and residents accessing services at municipal facilities

Phase Three – Our New Reality

Phase Three of Hamilton Reopens is our new reality. It is focused on continuing to deliver municipal services in a safe and responsible manner while the risk of COVID-19 infection remains in our community. Phase Three will be lengthy. It will continue until a COVID-19 vaccine or other treatments are available and are in widespread use. During Phase Three, City operations will look like:

• Most municipal facilities and offices reopen to the public with measures to enable physical distancing and health screening upon entry

• Most recreation programming and events will return under enhanced health and safety guidelines

• More staff may return to the workplace under enhanced health and safety guidelines

• Many staff continue to work from home

• Staff who were redeployed to support COVID-19 emergency response efforts may continue in their temporary positions

• Relaxed restrictions on the number of people gathering to follow the Provincial Orders

• Outdoor municipal amenities are open to the public

• Many City services are available both online and in person with health and safety measures in place for staff and residents accessing services at municipal facilities

If required, the City is prepared to implement more stringent public health measures or move backwards in the phased approach in order to keep residents and staff safe. Some elements may move between phases faster than others based on advice from public health officials and the situation in Hamilton.

The full document can be accessed here

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  • there is still strong demand for public transit, at least on the 2 buses I regularly ride. Both the 22 (Upper Ottawa) and 44 (Rymal) are both filled to capacity, passing by users waiting-sometimes as long as an hour-for a bus that doesn’t stop. Increased buses on Rymal are now a regular feature. Decrease service and you are effectively kissing that billion dollar goodbye.

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