The declaration of the coronavirus as a worldwide health pandemic is having an impact on everyone and the way local residents interact with each other.
There are no reported cases of Covid-19 in either Haldimand or Norfolk counties as of Monday. The Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit said “the risk to Haldimand and Norfolk residents remains low.”
However, businesses, municipal services and all organizations are taking the advice of public health officials and limiting or closing down services.
Haldimand-Norfolk Medical Officer of Health has ordered the suspension of all public gatherings of 250 people or more in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.
Organizers of smaller gatherings should contact the health unit’s Covid-19 hotline at 519-426-6170 ext. 9999.
Visiting restrictions are in place at all long-term care facilities. Only essential visitors will be permitted into long-term care homes until further notice.
At local businesses
Many local businesses remain open and continue to provide their range of products and services to residents. Most of these have also adopted measures to reduce the spread of the virus including social distancing, cashless transactions, limited number of customers in the store at one time, services by phone and delivery. Some businesses have introduced reduced hours.
The largest restaurants in Port Dover are closing.
Andrew Schneider, owner of the Erie Beach Hotel on Walker Street, said late Monday afternoon he made the decision to “temporarily cease operations” at The Cove Room and The Terrace Room. The situation “will be reviewed on a day-by-day basis.”
“Restaurants are busy places and we always work to ensure the health and safety of both our customers and our staff,” Mr. Schneider said noting the recommendations being made by public health officials.
Saying that spring weather always brings more visitors to Port Dover, Mr. Schneider hoped the necessary period of closure would not extend indefinitely.
The Arbor restaurant owned by Andrew Schneider and his brother Tony Schneider, offers take-out food only and will remain open with its regular menu.
Peter Knechtel of Knechtel Foods operate four restaurants in Port Dover. The Beach House, the largest of their restaurants, closed at end of day on Monday. At press time, the Dover Dairy Bar and Fisherman’s Catch restaurants were making operational adjustments and assessing the situation on a day-to-day basis. Knechtels on the Beach on Walker Street remains open with take-out.
Mr. Knechtel told the Maple Leaf “we don’t have a firm direction from the government to close but it has been strongly suggested. This is a way to help slow the spread of this virus and we are voluntarily closing the restaurant.”
Like other local restaurants, the Knechtel family said the situation is “fluid” and they will reassess decisions on a day-to-day basis and make changes as required.
“Restaurants and bars are high risk locations with large groups of people continuously coming and going. This is the socially responsible decision,” Mr. Knechtel said.
Willies restaurant on St. George Street has closed its inside dining area and remains open with its full menu for outside service only.
Tim Horton’s announced Monday that its stores would focus on take-out and drive-thru and closed its seating areas on Tuesday until further notice. The company said “this is being done to contribute to social distancing that has been called for by public health officials.”
Scott Adams, the meat manager at Mike’s No Frills supermarket, reported that store was very busy last week and again this week. He commented that two items most in demand were paper products and water. The store staff “is working hard to get all products back on the shelves as fast as possible.”
Roulston’s Pharmacy partner Blair Snow reported on Monday they are working to keep the pharmacy fully stocked as there has been a surge in prescription drug refills. Mr. Snow commented there is a shortage of personal protection masks. The company has had to seek additional sources to obtain masks for staff and others. In the “front store” Mr. Snow noted there had been a strong demand for paper products and sanitizers of every kind.
Dover Cheese Shop on Main Street remains open but request that no more than four customers are in the shop at one time. They have set up a “sanitation station” and are not providing any sampling. They are offering free delivery in Port Dover and curb side pick up for called in orders.
At Norfolk General Hospital
The hospital may cancel scheduled surgeries, low-risk minor procedures and endoscopies. Individuals who are scheduled for these services will be contacted and advised of confirmation or cancellation. The hospital will continue to provide essential services like blood transfusions and urgent CT scans.
As of Monday, the hospital will begin active Covid-19 screening for all visitors, staff and physicians. This means that hospital personnel will ask people to share travel history in the past 14 days and answer some health status questions.
Visitor restrictions are in effect at the hospital. Do not visit friends or family if you feel ill. With palliative exceptions, visitor guidelines are one visitor at a time per patient and no visitors under the age of 12.
The Emergency Department is open for the seriously ill and for critical care.
At local schools
The Government of Ontario ordered the closure of all publicly funded schools from March 14 to April 5 as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of coronavirus. This week is the traditional March Break holiday and students will be off for two additional weeks.
At Norfolk County facilities
Norfolk County closed most local facilities and cancelled camps and other programming.
Closed to the public until April 5 are:
o?All Public Library branches
o?All Norfolk County museums
o?Simcoe Recreation Centre, including the pool
o?All Norfolk County community centres and halls
o?Simcoe Seniors Centre and the Delhi Friendship Centre
All public programming at these facilities – including day camps – has been cancelled. County staff is reviewing upcoming open houses, public meetings and engagement sessions. Updates will be posted to norfolkcounty.ca/covid19.
The Medical Officer of Health has ordered the closure of all daycares in Norfolk and Haldimand counties
At Lighthouse Festival Theatre
Lighthouse Festival Theatre cancelled all scheduled performances and events until April 16. If you have a ticket to a cancelled event, the box office will contact you to discuss a credit on your account for a future performance or a full refund.
Lighthouse said it planned to stage the community show “Guys and Dolls” and the summer season as scheduled. “We are equally committed to presenting our community show and our summer season and will use this time to prepare those productions,” said Artistic Director Derek Ritschel.
Cancelled shows and events include Comedy Night – March 14; March Break (Robin Hood, The Berenstain Bears, Sleeping Beauty) – March 17-18-19; Person of Interest – March 21; Execulink: A Night at the Theatre – March 24; Andrew Martin AMORE – March 26; ABBAMANIA & The Bee Gees/Night Fever – March 27; Buddy Holly – March 28; Drama Kidz presents A Glass Half Full – April 2 & 3; Time Is On My Side: The Rolling Stones Story – April 4; Volunteer Sign-Up Day – April 7; Red Carpet Social – April 9.
At the Library
All branches of the Norfolk County Public Library will be closed until April 5th. Late fees will not be charged during this period, and reserved items will be available for pick-up upon reopening. All drop boxes except the Port Dover Branch will be open to return borrowed items.
“We did not arrive at this decision lightly,” NCPL CEO Heather King said. “After discussing the situation with our Medical Officer of Health, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, County officials and the Library Board, we decided that as a public service where people regularly gather, it was in the best interests of the community to temporarily close.”
Patrons who have booked appointments in the Library (including the free income tax clinics) will be rebooked at a later date. March break activities that required a registration fee will be rescheduled.
Renters who had booked a library Branch for meetings will be contacted to make future arrangements.
During the closure, NCPL staff will still be reporting to work. Phone lines will be operated between 10 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday. The Library’s online resources will remain available during the closure. These can all be accessed at ncpl.ca with a valid library card.
At Provincial Offences court
Provincial Offences Act traffic ticket matters scheduled from Monday, March 16 through to and including Friday, April 3, 2020 will be adjourned without you being present and rescheduled to a later date. The court said in a press release that “if you have a matter scheduled during this time, you do not need to attend.”
A notice of a new court date will be sent by mail to the address on file with the court.
At Hydro One
Hydro One announced a Pandemic Relief Fund to assist customers affected by the novel coronavirus. As part of its commitment to customers, Hydro One will offer financial assistance as well as increased payment flexibility to customers experiencing hardship.
“This is a difficult time for everyone and we want our customers to know that we’re here to support them,” said Mark Poweska, President and CEO, Hydro One. “We hope this fund provides our customers peace of mind so they can concentrate on what matters most — keeping their loved ones safe.”
“As Hydro One’s largest shareholder, we are pleased by the actions taken by Hydro One to support their customers during this uncertain time,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.
Hydro One is extending its Winter Relief program. This program halts disconnections and reconnects customers experiencing hardship during the coldest months of the year.
Hydro One is encouraging customers concerned about their bill or upcoming usage to call 1-888-664-9376- to discuss the fund and what options are available.
At the Health Unit
Residents looking to stay informed regarding the coronavirus pandemic can do so by logging onto the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit website at hnhu.org/health-topic/coronavirus-covid-19/
This site has been specifically dedicated to the virus and includes material on who is at risk, how to protect your family, what to do if you feel ill, and what precautions to take if you’ve travelled outside of Canada.
Exhibiting an “abundance of caution”, the Maple Leaf is aware of the following community events that have been cancelled. Many other will also be cancelled and people should check ahead with organizers of any event.
o?Tumaini Orphanage Fundraiser at St. Cecilia Church on March 22 to be rescheduled.
o?Vittoria and District Foundation Inc. annual Spaghetti Dinner and Auction is postponed to May 30. Tickets will be valid for this new date. For questions contact: Joan Norman: 226-931-6518; Brenda Cooper: 519-428-8700; Tracy Haskett: 519-420-8669
o?Stonebridge Community Services free fitness classes for anyone over 55 in Port Dover and surrounding area at Lions Community Centre and Grace United Church are cancelled for the next three weeks as a precaution against Covid-19.
o?The Canadian Blood Services has cancelled the blood donor clinic on March 27 which was to be held at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Port Dover. CBS is contacting donors who had booked appointments.
o Norfolk Historical Society’s Speaker Series for March 19 has been postponed.
o Port Dover Foundation Annual General Meeting scheduled March 25 at 6 p.m. is postponed “until we are reassured by experts that it is safe to reconvene.”
o Fanshawe College is cancelling all classes for the week of March 16 to 20. This break will allow the College to further evaluate the situation and provide faculty and staff time to develop alternative ways of delivering course content. Apprenticeship and dual credit classes at Fanshawe are also cancelled.
At large industry
Stelco announced that in response to the spread of Covid-19 and to assist in the protection of employees, contractors and visitors, access to facilities would be restricted to only essential employees until further notice. As well, anyone showing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath; have in the last 14-days experienced flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath; in the last 14-days have traveled outside of North America or to a Covid-19 high-risk area; been in close contact with anyone confirmed positive, quarantined or is being evaluated for Covid-19 would not be permitted entrance.
At Haldimand County
Haldimand County is closing museums, libraries and arenas for the next three weeks. March Break camps have been cancelled and a number of public workshops and meetings have been postponed (including the Business Excellence Awards Breakfast and Official Plan Update workshop).
Re-imbursements for cancelled museum, library and March Break programs will be provided to participants.