Premier Ford says he will 'explore options' around HWY 69 road checks, reports Sudbury mayor
Greater Sudbury's Mayor says he has spoken to Ontario Premier Doug Ford about creating a northern bubble to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Bigger says Ford "committed ... he would be in contact with Minister Sylvia Jones, Ontario's Solicitor General to explore what options there may be when it comes to implementing road checks on Highway 69 toward Greater Sudbury."
Yesterday, a spokesperson for the solicitor general's office said a stay-at-home order issued last month already discourages non-essential travel. Stephen Warner said the government and Ontario's medical experts have been clear, that people should not be travelling to different parts of the province.
In Bigger's statement to the media today, he says Ford "indicated that there would be enhanced communication efforts to further enforce his request that everybody stay at home unless absolutely necessary."
Meanwhile, a group including retired Sudbury doctor Peter Zalan and former mayor Jim Gordon say more restrictions are needed to prevent any of the highly contagious variants from taking hold in the north.
Gordon and others held a virtual meeting Tuesday to emphasize the need, especially as a number of variants first identified in the U-K have been detected as near as Barrie.
Gordon says it wouldn't be hard to regulate non-essential traffic on the arteries coming into the near north, like Highway 69.
"We have people who work, for example, in fire departments all along that route. I think they are well-trained individuals and they could be brought on and deputized by the province to handle things like this. But I don't want to get into those kinds of logistics, we are speaking on behalf of our community."
The mayor of another northern community says he's not in favour of creating a northern bubble.
North Bay mayor Al MacDonald wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that blocking highways into the region would be unworkable. He stated he thinks it would create a nightmare for the supply chain for essential goods, hinder travel of essential workers and hurt local businesses. He added the measures could block northern Ontario residents from travelling for things such as medical appointments.