If They Open It, Will They Come?

We were out for another food run today, and if anything shopping in the Valley is becoming even more aggravating. The nice weather is bringing more people out, and a number of different stores have opened up after the Victoria Day weekend.

All that’s done is make the store staff more paranoid. The grocery store had a lineup of grumpy seniors, everyone was wearing a mask inside except the store workers (go figure.) The garden centre on the way to Carleton Place has actually reduced its hours; there was a lineup of frustrated begoniacs outside the entrance and cars were jamming the parking lot and stopped on the shoulder of the highway. So much for social distancing.

There’s lots of talk about a second phase of opening but the case count is still rising in Ontario. Some local politicians are making noise about regional decisions on lifting the lockdown but I don’t see how that would be a good idea in Almonte – too many tourists come in at this time of year as it is.

My major concern is that if stores reopen will anyone show up if the experience is as nauseating as it is at a supermarket. Would you stand in line to buy a pair of socks or a computer hard drive when you can just order it at Amazon? The thrift store where Maria works wants to reopen soon, but what volunteer will serve as a sheepherder or store staff member inside. Most of them are ladies in their 70s and 80s – prime COVID fodder.

Many of the stores downtown in Almonte sell what we now know are non-essential items. Can they expect a return to normal browsing and sales anytime soon? And don’t even get me started about the pubs or restaurants – which will look more like a dental clinic than a pleasurable place to eat and drink.

Our experience today was more a grind-it-out run for essentials than anything happy. I expect most shopping trips will be that way until a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus is available. It will not be a swift trip back to the good old days of January 2020.

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