I want to begin by saying the City of Surrey is working closely with our local and senior health authorities to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The City’s Pandemic Response Committee comprised of the City Manager, Fire Chief and senior city staff has been active for 5 weeks now.

Last night, we announced the cancellation of all City organized events with more than 250 people until further notice. We are focused on ensuring that our facilities are clean and that essential services are maintained and if required, we are prepared to close them to protect public health. At our major buildings, staff will be at the entrances to sanitize hands of patrons as they enter, and you may have noticed that has already been put into effect as you arrived at City Hall today. We have also instituted a ban on all work-related international travel for staff.

As you full well know, the situation is fluid, and other measures will be invoked when deemed necessary.

We are in extraordinary times, and as a result, extraordinary measures are being taken. I know that many people are feeling anxious and unsettled, and understandably so. But I can tell you from my vantage point, we are fortunate to live in a country where we have good health care facilities and where there is sound leadership and oversight at all levels to respond and adapt to this fluid situation.

When it comes to what we can individually do in the fight against this virus, we all have our own role to play. The simple fact is, by protecting yourself, you are doing your part to stem the transmission of the virus, and that without question is a net benefit to everyone in our community.

The advice that has been given to wash hands regularly, stay home if sick and socially distancing yourself starts and ends with each of us. As someone who has been in public life for as long as I have, I have never turned down a handshake, until now. It’s a small gesture but it goes a long way in these current times.

By taking personal responsibility, you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting your family, loved ones, friends, and ultimately your community.

We also have to be mindful to look out for one another, especially our seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions. This could be a simple phone call or text to a loved one or friend to make sure everything is okay or if they need some help.

The other thing is to have consideration for others. We have all seen the images and stories of bare shelves of hand sanitizers and toilet paper due to people feeling the need to hoard. That’s not helpful, nor needed. By all means purchase what you need for a two-week period, but stockpiling and hoarding, means that someone is going without.

As I have said these are unfamiliar times we are in, but we each have a role and personal responsibility in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.