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2 person per vehicle rule lifted for household travel in Sagamok
Posted: May 25, 2020

2 person per vehicle rule lifted for household travel in Sagamok

Online public opinion poll helps inform Council’s decision 

by Robert Porter  


May 25, 2020 - Sagamok Anishnawbek Chief and Council decided today to ease travel restrictions for households leaving the community to go about their essential business, lifting the 2 person per vehicle rule imposed with the community’s pandemic response that included an emergency declaration and travel ban. 

Effective immediately, travel restrictions placed upon vehicles leaving the Sagamok community with members of the same household are limited only by the number of working seatbelts in the vehicle.

Sagamok’s Emergency Operations Control Group (EOCG) brought forth the recommendation to ease travel restrictions for households after considering the long-term impacts of the ongoing pandemic response and its emphasis on staying at home and continued physical distancing on the mental health of community members – especially children and youth. 

 

The EOCG recommendation came with cautions and conditions. 

Travel is still restricted to only low-risk areas with no confirmed active cases of COVID-19.  Currently, there are active confirmed cases of the virus in the City of Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, many areas of southern Ontario’s large urban areas.  Travel to these high risk areas remain restricted, however local areas in the north of Huron, Manitoulin and Espanola remain low-risk areas, as well as those areas of the Greater City of Sudbury outside the main city (like Chelmsford, Levac, Val Caron) and recently, Elliot Lake. 

The EOCG’s key caution was that families need to continue to be diligent in practicing safe behaviors to help prevent their exposure to illness, maintaining physical distancing and sanitation practices and ensuring that they continue to self-monitor for symptoms of illness. 

The EOCG also recommended that if children should accompany their parents on essential trips outside the community, they should not be permitted to enter stores.  While most business locations are not allowing children into their establishments at this time, some may be more permissible and the practice should continue to be highly discouraged. 

Parents are reminded not to leave their children unattended in vehicles while they shop. 

In approving the EOCG recommendation today, Sagamok Chief and Council also supported the cautions and conditions prescribed with the easing of the household travel restrictions. 

 

As of May 3, the rule has been that vehicles leaving the Sagamok community performing essential business were limited to 2 people per vehicle with children and youth highly discouraged from going on these trips. Households were also limited to a single trip outside the community each week.

These limitations were put into place to limit the number of community members who could be potential exposed to the virus while out each week. 

Last week, the Council decided to approve the EOCG recommendation to ease up on travel restrictions for households with the introduction a second weekly travel pass for households that came into effect this past Sunday.  This decision was based upon a household opinion survey that asked respondents if they agreed with increasing the weekly travel passes from 1 pass per week to 2 passes per week.   95% of 119 survey respondents said that they wanted to see the household passes increase.

The week prior, new passes were introduced for harvesters to venture outside the Sagamok community to hunt and gather foods and medicines.  These passes permitted as many members of the same household as there are seatbelts in a vehicle to leave the community to travel together to Sagamok lands outside the reserve proper.  

 

Sagamok community members remain their community’s first line of defense against the spread of illness like COVID-19 into Sagamok.  It is their attention to physical distancing, washing hands and hygiene, disinfection techniques and avoiding high-risk areas and situations that will keep everyone at home safe.