A Plea from a Local for Cottagers to Respect the Rural Communities as we move into Stage Three Re-Opening – COVID-19.
My Plea as a Local
My family runs a farm in a small rural community, within 2 hours of Toronto that is littered with rivers and lakes. Besides being a farming community, it’s also a retirement, cottaging, and RV community. We, like those in urban areas, were hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns in March. It’s been sad economically as we are watching many small, local businesses struggle to survive, and some not able to. Some of these businesses have been in operation for decades, handed down from generation to generation.
We’ve all been happy to see them being allowed to re-open under cautious protocols and we’re also happy to see the return of our summer cottagers/RVers to help in the recovery of our local economy. Locals in our small town have done a really, really good job flattening the COVID-19 curve and keeping county infections to a minimum; under 2 dozen cases, no deaths and all but 2 resolved as of June 30. We, as a town, region and province, have gotten used to the rules and have been able to see first-hand, they work! Of course, not everyone follows the rules, but most of us do.
- Stay home and isolate if we are not felling well at all
- Minimize trips to town as best we can – group errands together
- Only one family member goes into stores
- Wear masks
- Social distance and pay attention to the one-way isles
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer when entering or exiting the store
Our Small Town
A plea from a local, treat the front-line workers with the hero respect they deserve. Their choice to continue to provide the rest of us with the goods and services we need at their own personal risk, is nothing short of heroic. Many of these workers are students, young people; kids, whose parents I know. They deserve my best effort to protect them by adhering to the above.
I don’t go to the grocery store on Saturday’s anymore. The last time I did was June 13th. The store was mostly occupied by the summer holidaying crowd, which historically has been an enjoyable, festive kind of experience. But times are different now. Most were in the store in groups ranging from a couple to an entire family. They wore no masks. Many didn’t follow the one-way isles. Most didn’t respect social distancing. I was quite saddened by it. My first concern was and continues to be the risk the employees of the store are being exposed to. These are my neighbours, friends, and acquaintances. My next concern was a potential spike in cases locally that would shut us down again. We’ve already lost some businesses, due to shut down. I’m very afraid what a second shut down would do the ones that were able to ride it out.
My sister-in-law has an RV at a local resort; she loves it. She works in a local long-term care facility and spends her summer at the resort going back and forth. To avoid exposure, she isn’t going back to her RV now for the rest of the season. She’s been potentially exposed to COVID-19. Another resort summer resident came from the city, did not self-isolate, wear a mask or socially distance and has tested positive for COVID-19. The city resident was tested in the city and received the results while at the resort, a few days later.
My sister-in-law is now off work, in self-isolation awaiting her own test results, leaving her work short-handed, during a time that long term care facilities are struggling. Unknowing that she was potentially exposed to COVID-19, she had been at work and put the residents and staff at risk. Not only that, she had lunch with her own 87-year-old mother, putting her at unnecessary risk.
One Final Plea
We’re all happy to see the warmer weather. Everyone is happy to see the slow and cautious lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. We are all happy to be able to enjoy a little bit of what was once normal, which includes welcoming the summer cottage crowd. As a plea from a local, it’s important that cottagers from outside the area understand the local municipality’s council is voted in by the locals and for the locals. They also have the power to adopt by-laws. I can’t speak for all municipalities, but I know our municipality is prepared to shut down travel if needed to protect their residents, retirement communities, long term care facilities and local hospital capacity.
The residents of your cottage area are real people with families, businesses, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and lives being affected by COVID-19 too. Because we have significantly less cases, doesn’t mean we are safer, but rather means we’ve done a particularly good job of protecting ourselves. A final plea from a local, if you are coming to visit our area that we call home, you too must be vigilant, in helping us protect each other.