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P.E.P. owner Paul Pariseau demonstrating a mask at his clothing store in Lachute. Photo: James Morgan.

Businesses adjust to new public health rules

It is not quite business as usual for local businesses and service providers.

Restrictions around COVID-19 have been reduced somewhat in both Ontario and Québec recently, which has allowed more types of stores and services to open, but physical distancing and cleaning procedures still must be followed.

At Muir’s Bakery in Maxville, there are no chairs at the tea room tables.  Owner Cheryl Latimer said the decrease in customer traffic has been a challenge.  She is relying on special orders and deliveries to customers who live in Montréal because pick-up purchases at the bakery counter in Maxville have slowed down.

The bakery is open five days per week instead of six right now.

“This is going to be a killer summer,” said Latimer.  The Glengarry Highland Games, the biggest event of the year in Maxville, have been cancelled for 2020 due to the pandemic.

“The Games usually help carry us through, but they’re not happening,” Latimer said.

Going to see a doctor for non-emergency reasons has been close to impossible.  However, the Casselman Medical Centre recently began allowing patients to come to the facility for allergy injections.  Doctors were only consulting with patients over the phone and would only see patients if there were no other options, and the walk-in clinic was limited to registered patients only.  The front door is locked, and patients must call to be let in when they arrive.  Administrator Jennifer Arenas said that the facility continued to provide infant vaccinations during the pandemic.

All waiting room chairs have been removed and patients are screened for COVID-19 when they arrive.  Physicians and nurses wear complete protective equipment when they are with patients.  Many of those practices will remain in place during the weeks ahead when regular appointments are again available.

At popular chip stand Jos. Patates on rue Maple in Grenville, the pavement is clearly marked with lines and signs telling customers where they should be standing while waiting to place their order and to keep two metres/six feet apart from each other.  One line and window are for ordering and paying, and the other line and window is for picking up orders.  The tables and chairs underneath the shelter are closed to customers.

Owner René Lalonde said most of the customers have no difficulty with following the rules, but “not all understand.”  However, “in general, it’s good,” he commented.

Jos. Patates opened on schedule on March 18 and 14 people work there.  Lalonde said business is going well with the normal number of customers.

Clothing stores were recently able to open again in Québec, including P.E.P., a landmark retailer of men’s and women’s fashions on rue Principale in downtown Lachute.

“People are very, very glad we are open,” said owner Paul Pariseau.

He said that some business has been lost due to cancelled high school graduations and most weddings are postponed until September, but the situation is still good.

“It’s been a better-than-anticipated opening for us,” said Pariseau.

He said it seems like more people are shopping locally now, and he looks forward to restaurants reopening fully so that even more people come to downtown Lachute.

Meanwhile, Pariseau wants to make sure people know how to properly wear masks.  He is even selling fashionable-looking ones in his store.  He recently had retired nurse Louise Masse come in and demonstrate.  She worked at the long-term care facility adjacent to the Lachute hospital for 30 year of her 37-year nursing career.

Masse said that mask wearers should always clean their hands first and pick up the mask by one of the ear elastics, and then place the elastic loop around each ear, one at a time.  The mask can then be adjusted to ensure it is covering the mouth and nose.  Mask users should not remove them and should not keep the mask in their pocket temporarily before putting it back on.

Masse said that unlike in Asian countries, there is not a culture of mask use in Canada and that is is an ongoing adjustment.

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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