Essential Services Will Continue During Pandemic

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    By John Francis

    The coronavirus pandemic is causing dramatic changes in daily life on the Bruce Peninsula. Stores and service providers are trying to find ways to continue to serve their customers while minimizing the risk of contagion to staff or contamination of their stores.

    Hellyers Foodland in Lion’s Head is the busiest spot on the upper peninsula. Owner Kyle Hellyer has noticed a change in the pattern of shopping.

    There are cottagers around but the store is mainly seeing single adults rather than families. Locals are making fewer trips to the store and “they’re bringing bigger baskets”. Hellyers have implemented a “seniors only” period every morning from 8:00-9:00am. They disinfect everything carefully before opening.

    In fact they disinfect the whole store two or three times a day and the surfaces that people touch regularly are disinfected many times each day.

    Hellyers is working proactively to reduce the potential for contamination by reducing the number of people who come into the store. They offer parking lot pickup to anybody who asks — phone or email your order and staff will bring it out to your car. The service is open to anybody who wants to minimize contact, not just seniors and the quarantined. Hellyers also offers free delivery every Wednesday to customers in Lion’s Head. This may need to be expanded, says Kyle Hellyer. “We’ll re-evaluate as needed. Everything is changing by the hour.”

    The store is limiting quantities of a few items and adjusting those limits based on availability. Currently they have no toilet paper, hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes. Delivery trucks are running late (a Friday delivery run was actually cancelled) and some high-demand items are short-shipped. With toilet paper, Hellyers orders “five to fifteen cases of each of ten SKUs and we’re lucky to get five cases total.”

    At Peacocks Foodland in Tobermory, the details are different but the pattern is much the same. There was panic buying on the 13th and 14th of March when basketball, baseball and hockey all cancelled but Owner Rick Peacock says things have settled down to a dull roar since then. They started limiting quantities of high-priority items on the 14th and have mostly been able to maintain a stock of toilet paper since then. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are still out of stock but they are freely available for customers in the store.

    Peacocks have not implemented a seniors hour but Rick Peacock says that before 9:00AM, “we’re not that busy anyway…”

    Peacocks has always offered deliveries on Tuesday and Friday; now those delivery days are busier than ever. Peacocks also offers front door delivery — if you call ahead or email, they will meet you at the door or bring your groceries out to your car.

    “Please don’t come into the store for 14 days after coming home,” Rick Peacock says. Call or email — “We’ll work something out.”

    Hellyers is fld7193LionsHead@sobeys.com; phone 519-793-3415.

    Peacocks is fld7185tobermory@sobeys.com; phone 519-596-2380.

    For deliveries, both stores prefer payment by credit or debit card, but cash in an envelope is also acceptable.

    At Peninsula Pharmacy in Lion’s Head, pharmacist Robin McGuire is focused on providing a secure service to all her customers. Her greatest fear is having to shut down for 14 days because of contamination, so she is trying to minimize the number of people in the store. “Don’t come in unless you absolutely have to,” she says, noting that “running stuff out to people’s cars” is a much better choice. Call ahead — 519-793-3200. Other strategies also work. The pharmacy is still shipping to Tobermory Clinic; the staff there will give you your meds at the door. Peninsula Parcel also delivers every day throughout Northern Bruce Peninsula.

    McGuire stresses that there is no need to panic. Many people in the community have come forward with offers of assistance. “We’re going to make sure everybody gets their meds.” 

    Peninsula Parcel has always been an important support for the peninsula’s business community, but as the pandemic unfolds, their service will probably become part of daily life for many households.

    Owner Heather Mielhausen explains that “PenPar” service is very simple. They will pick up anything — as long as it’s prepaid and ready — and bring it anywhere. Their service area is from Sauble Beach and Owen Sound north to Tobermory and everywhere in between. So if you need anything picked up — from a drugstore, a veterinarian, a car dealership, your lawyer, whatever — call 519-534-2506.