Balancing our collective desire to stay healthy with our instinct to want to support our local businesses can be a tricky dance.

We’ve taken to the floor again this week, but unlike the summer reopening, we’ve now got three new strains of the Coronavirus to contend with.

At a time when we’re all weary of this pandemic, we have to challenge ourselves to be even more vigilant in order to stave off the predicted third wave.

As most of you know, our health unit area is categorized as orange. That means we have been able to return to local restaurants for in-person dining. Gyms and fitness clubs are getting back to in-studio training. We can go back to retail stores. We can get our hair cut. Some small-scale entertainment can begin again. We can get together with family and friends – up to 10 people indoors and up to 25 outdoors.

But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Acting medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, said although the stay-at-home order has been lifted, we still have a moral obligation to do all that we can to stop the spread. He is pleading with people not to gather with others and to continue to stay home and only go out for essential reasons.

He points out the new variants are more easily spread and have just made their way into our health unit area. He is worried about them contributing to sudden surges locally.

Dr. Nell Thomas provides a very good overview of the three new variants in Covid Corner (below).

They have become a game changer. They have altered the battlefield. If you’ve had COVID-19, there’s no guarantee you can’t get one of the variants. Labs have had to change their analysis of swabs. All positive tests are being checked for the variants.

The good news, according to Dr. Thomas, is the current vaccines should still be fairly successful in fighting off both COVID19 and its variants. And more companies are developing new vaccines. In other words, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, we just have to make sure our community gets through that tunnel.

While in many ways, choosing how you support the economy is a personal decision, we urge locals to keep community in mind in their choices.

For example, you can dine-in, but the business will make just as much money or more if you opt for takeout.

We don’t know of many local churches that are opening their doors, even though they can. There continue to be very few weddings. For some, being able to have a small gathering of a celebration of life may take precedent. Being able to go into retail shops, versus ordering online and doing curbside pickup, is certainly more convenient for many of us. Some of us badly need a haircut.

So, do those things if you must. However, to repeat what we now hope is the obvious: masks must be worn, people need to stay two metres apart from anyone who is outside of their household, wash those hands.

And perhaps most importantly, if you are serious about boosting the local economy, stop with the Amazon and other out-of-town orders and confine your spending to Haliburton County. Don’t view this as a green light to jump in the car and head to Huntsville, Bancroft, Bracebridge, Lindsay and Peterborough.

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