Like everyone else organizing an event in which a group of people are in close proximity to each other, the MNM 2020 Committee has been learning fast and thinking hard about the coronavirus, aka Covid-19.
Because new cases in Canada, including in Ontario, are now increasing sharply, Ontario has ordered a lockdown – all non-essential businesses are closed and gatherings of more than 50 people prohibited, until March 31 (as of now).
For context on the importance of social distancing and tightened hygiene, see this article, and especially its graphs: https://medium.com/@
Note that social distancing immediately slows down the number of new cases – but that is not apparent at first, because we don’t know the true number of new cases; only the reported number of new cases. See Chart 7 in that article for detail. In other words: hang in with social distancing and be patient: it IS making a difference and we’ll all be celebrating the flattening of the curve in 1-2 weeks.
Between our monitoring of the situation, research and consultation with a member of the Muskoka’s pandemic response committee who has experience with the SARS threat, we’ve made the following decisions:
- It’s too early to decide to cancel MNM2020. (If it were scheduled for April, that would be different.) We plan to monitor the progress of the epidemic and its fast-changing realities, and make a decision closer to the Marathon date. Thus we are still accepting registrations.
- Because we would rather postpone than cancel altogether, we are looking into whether it will be possible to book a suitable space in the late fall.
- We suggest that writers keep fundraising, but with greater sensitivity to your prospective donors’ financial situations than usual, as people will lose jobs temporarily or permanently.
- If we do go ahead with the Marathon in July and the virus is still active and spreading, we will take some extra hygiene precautions and make some new hygiene rules for everyone in the building. Linked here is a Covid-19 info sheet, co-written by our local consultant, which includes a list of hygienic precautions we will use for guidance.
- Another possible option we have is conducting the Marathon either partially (which we’ve done before) or entirely online.
We will keep you apprised of any changes or other plans we make as the situation develops.
On behalf of all the MNM2020 volunteers, we wish you and yours all the best especially continued GOOD HEALTH.
Karen Wehrstein & Colum McKnight,
Co-Convenors, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2020