ST. MARY’S – Of the countless ways a tourist area can address the travelling public, “please move along” is not ordinarily one of them.
But these are not ordinary times, and that’s exactly how officials at the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s have decided to communicate with anyone, including residents, who recently spent time in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).
“We’re asking people who have been to the Central Zone (HRM) that they not attend our events and programs,” says St. Mary’s Warden Greg Wier. “We just have to go by what [Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert] Strang tells us to do.”
According to Director of Finance Marian Fraser, municipal staff posted the public request on the district’s official website and Facebook page last week following the provincial government’s introduction of tighter controls on public gatherings in the Halifax area to staunch the COVID-19 infection rate there.
“Let’s say somebody was out shopping there last week and not doing something essential like going to the doctor,” she says. “We’re asking them to not to take part in any of our recreational programs, like going to a public skate.”
Wier added: “I do know there were a couple of people who play rec hockey here and they were at one game in Halifax. They were asked not to come [to the Recplex] for 14 days.”
Fraser said the district already employs a monitor at the facility.
“That individual’s job is to check everyone who comes in,” she explains. “He gets them to sign their name and say where they’re from, and gets their telephone number. At that time, he also does the COVID-19 screening and asks them if they’ve been in and out of the affected areas of the HRM, that Dr. Strang is talking about, in the past 14 days.”
While she emphasized that the precautions only apply to municipal facilities, some private businesses are also adjusting their practices accordingly.
“It’s a big subject,” says Max MacDonald, co-owner with his wife Barbara of Beanie’s Bistro in Sherbrooke. “The good news is the doors to our restaurant are still open. We had to lose half of our seating, but then we built a screened-in area outside and created a take-out window. That used to be a very small percentage of what we do; now it’s a very large percentage.”
MacDonald understands the municipality’s caution. “Look, we’re only two hours away form Halifax, and we are certainly very aware of that,” he says. “We ask everyone who enters our building whether they’ve been to the Central Zone in the past two weeks. If so, we say we’d be happy to offer them take out service.”