What’s open and closed in town? A question with no easy answer

By Taylor McClure, Special to Brome County News

In facing a situation that is consistently changing on a daily basis, it may be difficult to stay up to date with the services that are still available in your community. This is so much the case that the text of this article has been changed twice since Sunday to reflect new measures that have been put into place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the many local businesses, restaurants, shopping centres, and educational institutions have had to close their doors as of late.
In Brome Lake, there are various establishments around the village that are currently working hard to keep their services accessible all while adjusting to these measures and keeping the health and safety of the community that supports them as their top priority. Since the information and regulations continue to change on a regular basis, it is suggested to check for business hours online or phone before venturing out.
While The Uniprix Jean-Marc Bélanger recently decided to lock their doors out of the safety for staff and clientele, they also have a delivery system in place in order to continue to offer essential services.
“We offer free delivery for prescriptions and floor products,” said Melissa Robitaille, Manager of the Uniprix, adding that while the business is mostly delivering to Knowlton residents for now, they may eventually expand their territory. “We may go wider and deliver to South Bolton and different places like that.”
All deliveries have to be pre-paid and the order will be left outside of the door. Two deliveries go out each day, first at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. Prescription renewals can be done over the phone or on Uniprix’s website and they will be prepared to be picked up at the front or back door of the pharmacy. Old boxes and phials are no longer accepted.
“We ask that people wait at least three hours for prescriptions due to the amount of calls,” Robitaille added.
Familiprix – Jean-Raphaël Itoua is also offering free delivery to Brome Lake residents and they are encouraging people to order their prescription beforehand to reduce waiting times at the pharmacy. A sanitizing station is also set up at the front of the pharmacy.
The Brome County News attempted to reach the local IGA grocery store for comment about how that essential business has adjusted business practices but was redirected to a national media line where no one was available to comment. The paper was informed by a local shopper, however, that the store has reduced its hours to open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and groceries can be ordered over the phone and online. Attempts to access the IGA website on Sunday and Monday redirected users to a “virtual waiting room” with a listed wait time of over one hour.
As they sell food, the Boutique Canards du Lac-Brome is open to the public, but they are taking strict sanitation measures.
“We have no delivery system but if we are many in the boutique and the person is in Knowlton we can see what we can do,” said Valérie Gouin, manager of the boutique. “If someone can’t leave and they’re really stuck, I can see if someone from my team can deliver it if they are close by.”
Orders can also be done over the phone and picked up at the store to limit waiting time. “I had a lady call and she knew exactly what she wanted so she came here to pick it and she used her card but it took two seconds because everything was prepared,” emphasized Gouin.
On Sunday it was announced that all restaurant dining rooms and dining halls are now closed as a part of the provincial government’s new measures and only takeout and delivery can be offered.
Prior to this announcement, one local restaurant known as Café Floral was doing its best to adjust to the situation and to keep their dining area open by sitting people about 10 feet apart from one another and disinfecting all tables and chairs after each rotation of people. The dining area is now closed but Café Floral is still offering takeout.
On Monday all non-essential businesses were ordered to close no later than midnight Tuesday, which means that many of the other establishments in the area that had remained open to the public will soon be closed.
Although Brome Lake Books had previously been operating on a limited-access model where a small number of visitors would be allowed into the store at a time under strict conditions, the business is now shifting to an exclusively online model for the foreseeable future.
“We are trying to encourage people to order online or by phone,” said Danny McAuley, co-owner of Brome Lake Books. “We are doing free delivery in the Lac-Brome area but anyone can contact us and we can see what we can do; if it’s too far we might to have to ship it.”
Books that are ordered and paid for in advance can also be picked up just outside the store if set up by prior arrangement.
“We are trying to communicate through our webpage and social media to encourage ordering online so we can avoid contact,” McAuley said. “We can make suggestions too and we can do the shopping for them. We can suggest what might work for them and activities and games too that we might have to keep them busy.”
The co-owner said that the team members are doing their best to wipe down anything they see that has been handled and employees are consistently washing their hands.

Published in the March 24 edition of the Brome County News.

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