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City CAO back at city hall day after returning from Cayman Islands

Mayor says city got approval from top health officials to allow Jackson to return to city hall rather than self-isolate; He believes 'right decision was made'
hydro one gayle jackson
City of Orillia CAO Gayle Jackson is shown in this file photo. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters

City CAO Gayle Jackson returned from a vacation to the Cayman Islands on Sunday and was given permission to return to work at city hall Monday rather than self-isolate.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke said he feels “comfortable” with the decision.

The mayor met with Fire Chief Brent Thomas about the issue. Thomas, who leads the city's emergency control team, then reached out to the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Charles Gardner, the medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, for advice.

"There was constant conversation with (Thomas) ... before and after her return," noted the mayor.

“There were a lot of factors at play,” said the mayor, noting there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands at the time Jackson was there. Additionally, Jackson had a direct flight home, there was no layover and there was no change of planes.

“Based on those factors, at that time, it was determined it was OK for her to return to work and to self-monitor,” said Clarke.

He noted the Prime Minister, on Friday, said people returning to Canada “should consider” self-isolation. 

It wasn’t until mid-day Monday that “the game changed” and more strenuous language was used in urging self-isolation, said Clarke.

The mayor said city hall has put social distancing measures in place and hand sanitizer is “very prevalent.”

He said he did not hear “anything contrary” from any other staffers at city hall about allowing Jackson to return to work.

“I do believe, based on the information we had at the time, that the right decision was made, quite frankly.”

Jackson is at work today along with other staff who “continue to work behind the scenes." He said in the coming days, many may work from home, although decisions are still being made.

As a result of Premier Doug Ford’s declaration of a state of emergency in Ontario this morning, more changes will be announced about city services/facilities imminently, said the mayor.

Self-isolation is suggested for 14 days because COVID-19 has a lengthy incubation period. While the median is about five days, the range has been from two to 14 days before signs of the virus appear.