By Victoria Gray
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND- Just as Six Nations announced it was moving into the Black Alert Level status on the community’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Framework two new cases of COVID-19 were reported . There are also six active cases in the community.
The community total COVID-19 cases stands at 127 with one death.
Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) announced the move into stricter COVID-19 precautions in a press release on Friday morning in response to the province’s stay-at-home order and state of emergency. But businesses are being allowed to stay open.
“Due to the rise in case numbers not only in the community, but in surrounding communities combined with the recent provincial stay-at-home order, this tells us that we have to move into the black COVID-19 alert level to prevent any further spread of the virus and to protect our community,” Elected Chief Mark Hill said.
The Black, or alert level 5 is the highest and most strict level of response measures SNEC has developed for dealing with the spread of COVID-19.
It means that the risk to community members is very high and transmission of COVID-19 is uncontrolled.
SNEC has issues a stay at home advisory, people are allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes that include, but are not limited to work, health care, and groceries.
Health and emergency response capacities are now considered above critical levels. Premiere Doug Ford said earlier this week that ICU’s in Ontario hospitals could be overwhelmed by early February and that Ontario is is crisis.
Private gathers and monitored gathers will not be permitted and community members are asked to stay in their homes and only leave for essential reasons.
Chief Hill understands this is difficult because there are no groceries stores in the community, but also knows every time someone leaves, it provides an avenue for the virus to come to Six Nations and is urging community members to shop local.
“We are asking you to join us for what we hope will be one last push to slow and prevent the spread of the virus in our community,” Hill said.
Elementary schools and daycares will remain closed with online learning services only. The federally run schools have now given a target reopening date of February 10, 2021, which will be reassessed in the coming weeks.
Although businesses are allowed to remain open they will have to adhere to strict guidelines including curb-side pick-up, online/phone orders and deliveries. Restaurants are allowed to remain open for take-out services only. All Arenas and sports, gyms or training facilities and the bingo hall must close.
All personal care services must cease operations and all performing arts practices must also stop.
The local Six Nations Police Service have told the SNEC they are dealing with a “concerning amount of quarantine checks coming to their office from the Border Crossing Services, which tells us that members are continuing to frequently travel and cross borders. Cross border travelling should only happen for essential workers and compassionate family issues at this point in alert level black.”
The Six Nations COVID-19 Pandemic response document says Six Nations criteria is customized to the community and its thresholds are higher than the rest of the province. The surrounding communities’ status effects Six Nations COVID-19 measures because the community relies on services in the surrounding communities. It also says if County of Brant, or another community near Six Nations goes into lockdown, Six Nations would as well.
“However, we will track our indicators based on virus transmission in our community and our ability to handle those cases and this will have an impact on our measures as well. This is because although er are large for a reserve, we are small compared to other public health units and our numbers will not significantly affect Brant Public Health Unit. This means we need to watch our own indicators and make decisions to implement measures that are appropriate for our community and not rely on Brant or other governments to do that for us,” the COVID-19 response framework document said.
Community members on and off-reserve are urged to follow public health guidelines, stay home, wear a mask, disinfect commonly touched surfaces often, stay 6 ft apart and wash you hands.
To book a COVID-19 test online visit www.sixnationscovid19.ca or call the COVID Assessment Centre at 1-855-977-7737 or 226-446-9909.
For more information about the Black COVID-19 alert level visit www.sixnationscovid19.ca.
SNEC will reassess the Black Alert Level on February 1, 2021. The SNEC will release more information then.