St. Catharines downtown summer street closures could help reduce COVID-19, says Niagara’s top doc


Published April 20, 2022 at 12:38 pm

More of thsis, please, says Niagara Region's acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji. Downtown St. Catharines summer street closure could actually help reduce COVID-19 numbers, he noted. (Photo: St. Catharines)

Count Niagara Region Health’s acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji among the fans of St. Catharines now-annual downtown street closures.

But it’s not the freedom of walking right down the middle of St. Paul Street that has Hirji singing its praises.

Rather, it’s the potential effectiveness of reducing COVID-19 infection that has him pumped for the initiative.

At a speech for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce members on Tuesday (April 19), Hirji suggested he’d be completely onboard with the other cities and towns in Niagara doing something similar within their downtown cores.

Hirji suggested that the blocked off streets gave pedestrians far more room to move around and distance, as well as simply being an open-air environment rather than closed-off indoor spaces.

As well, with the initiative now in its third year, downtown St. Catharines restaurants were basically given permission to take up a huge portion of the sidewalks for their patios since the road was freed up as a pedestrian walkway.

In fact, this year, rather than closing St. Paul Street (from William Street to Carlisle Street, and from Bond Street to Court Street) and James Street (from King Street to St. Paul Street) on Friday and Saturday night starting at 4 pm each evening, the St Catharines Downtown Association got permission to shut them down at 4 pm on Fridays and not reopen the streets until 11 pm on Saturday night.

In the first year (2020) of closed-off downtown, Sunday was also included but that was dropped last year.

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