Kenora -Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford is a senior member of provincial cabinet involved in the debate about how the provincial government should respond to the pandemic, and he talked about the reason for the shutdown following last week's announcement.

"Here's the bottom line. To break the deadly trend, we had to make the difficult but necessary decision to declare this provincial state of emergency and stay-at-home order for the next 28 days," he said, during a media briefing following last week's announcement.

Since the premier's announcement of the province-wide shutdown, the health unit has since seen some improvement in the number of active cases, especially in the Kenora area.

At the time of the announcement, the province had seen more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19, and the number of active cases in the health unit's catchment area was above 40. During their presentation, scientists working with the provincial government estimated the province's health care system would be overwhelmed within a month, and the number of deaths would rise sharply, unless changes were made.

However, as the shutdown impacts commerce, Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford also offered an update for merchants.

"Focusing on the business supports, obviously the Northern Ontario recovery program, we've committed initially $20 million to that program. We've since decided to add a few million dollars to meet the demand of that program," he said. 

Kenora's chamber of commerce is working on a virtual forum, in an effort to help members get through the second wave.

For more information:

Ontario issues stay-at-home orders, state of emergency

Health experts warn of 'serious consequences' as new variant reaches Ontario

Province of Ontario - Help for businesses