Renfrew County’s top doctor hoping for 14-day lockdown from the province

PEMBROKE, ONT. — Renfrew County’s acting medical officer of health says the looming provincewide lockdown is tough and not fair on the region.

Renfrew County currently sits in the green zone and reported three new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. There are 18 total active cases in the health unit’s region. Dr. Robert Cushman is hoping the county’s status and steady low number of cases could influence Premier Doug Ford to lift Renfrew County out of lockdown after 14 days instead of 28.

“I would hope that the premier would take another look in the new year and we would get out of this after two weeks,” says Dr. Cushman.

Cushman admits that most of the cases have come from travellers from outside the region, but the health unit has been able to mitigate any serious damage.

“There’s been a lot of evidence of the so-called ‘M’ postal codes shopping in eastern Ontario, Torontonians,” he says. “There’s very little activity in Renfrew County, but it can get in there as you see. Then it spreads, but luckily, we’ve been able to contain the spread.”

BACK TO THE OLD, NEW WAYS

For many businesses in Renfrew County, it’s back to the way things were during the first wave’s lockdown. Some may close for the 28 days, while others will be reverting to new methods.

“Some are worried,” says Jean Hughes, owner of Renfrew Printing and head of the Renfrew BIA. “Some don’t know what they’re going to do, if they’re going to do curbside pick up or deliveries or stuff like that.”

At PJ’s Restaurant in Arnprior, owner Jim Anas figured out their system for take out, delivery, and curbside pick up in the spring, but that doesn’t make the transition back to it any easier.

“I think it’s going to be tough,” says Anas. “I think, at the end of kimberley johnson the day, January and February is always a slow month to begin with, so this just throws another curveball into the whole thing.”

New Year’s Eve is always a big night for Anas at PJ’s, and he’s hopeful their to-go options will work for them again. However, the hit to staff who have worked in-house for years worries him most.

“To see them struggle through these times, we’re doing our best to make sure that we can keep all those who have been with us a long time still employed and working the phones or whatever it may be,” says Anas.

For the businesses along Renfrew’s main street that are able to stay open, Hughes says there will still be a financial hit without the buzz of shoppers walking around to different stores.

“Whether we get to stay open or not, it’s still a big impact financially, mentally, emotionally, the whole nine yards,” says Hughes. “We hope, come January 25th, we’ll be back rolling and people will come out and start shopping again.” 

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