The Province of Ontario is dealing with its first global pandemic in 100 years so it was bound to get some things wrong.
Without a doubt, choosing to allow big box retailers such as Costco and Walmart to remain open while shuttering small business is one of the more questionable decisions.
We have seen the line-ups at places such as Costco and Walmart, in which people are not six feet apart.
We know full well that stores in Haliburton County could do a much better job of social distancing and limiting numbers into their premises.
While the Costcos and Walmarts also have robust online shopping to cushion the COVID economic blow, small businesses in places such as the Highlands do not.
We applaud County Warden Liz Danielsen for taking a stand during a Jan. 21 Algonquin Highlands council meeting.
She said it did not seem fair for big box stores to be open with small businesses being hurt as badly as they are by being reduced to curbside pickup and deliveries.
In the same vein, we have to question a decision that has led to Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride being closed this winter. It has resulted in the local ski hill having to lay off 90 employees. Owner Chris Bishop and the Bishop family had spent a lot of money to be COVID compliant. They never got the chance beginning Boxing Day.
While it is great that Nordic skiing is being allowed, after a recent visit to one of the trails, I can attest to a full parking lot and cars and people not always six feet apart. It left me wondering why crosscountry skiing was allowed but the runs in Eagle Lake banned.
I’ve also had calls from members of the general public, complaining about snowmobilers. One caller claimed to have seen out-of-town vehicles and license plates pulling trailers full of sleds. He further claimed that some accommodators were allowing out-of-town snowmobilers to stay in direct contravention of the provincial lockdown rules that say accommodation can be for housing only. Another complained of sledders congregating at fuel pumps, less than six-feet apart without masks. Some callers said they are worried about local employees who are serving gas or at grocery stores or take-out restaurants.
Some good news did arrive this week. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has received its first batches of COVID vaccinations and will begin vaccinating soon. While great for our long-term care residents, many of us are still looking at months-long waits for our vaccines.
Which is why locals should do their best to patronize local stores, not shop online at big box retailers or drive to out-of-town Costco and Walmart stores. That’s why snowmobilers who live in the County should snowmobile in the County. That’s why those living in other areas should sled in those areas. And, as far as inequitable business openings, we would urge Premier Doug Ford and his ministers and advisors to have another look at the closure list to see if some adjustments need to be made. After all, if you can go to an indoor school, surely you should be able to go to an outside ski hill.