Public service and recreation facilities throughout the region are either shutting down or setting access restrictions as part of local efforts to curb the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, a viral disease that has flu-like symptoms.
Since the Eastern Ontario Health Unit confirmed an actual case of Covid-19 in Eastern Ontario, outside of the Ottawa area, municipalities, local health agencies, and others have adjusted their public access policies until the pandemic situation changes.
Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH) and Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH), both regional hospitals serving residents at either end of Prescott-Russell, have adopted similar limited access guidelines for both patients and visitors to their facilities, following EOHU recommendations.
Screening procedures are in effect at both hospitals for new patients, to identify those that might have the Covid-19 virus. The screening procedure includes questions about the patient’s past travel history, including any recent trips to China or Southeast Asia, Japan, Iran or Italy, or close contact with someone who has been to any of those areas; signs of any symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, or a worsening cough, contact with someone who is a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 case.
Visiting restrictions are now in effect. Anyone who feels sick is asked not to visit family or friends who are in the hospital for treatment. WDMH is restricting patient access to one visitor at a time, except in cases of compassionate reasons.
The Clarence-Rockland Health Team has sent out emails to its clientele to tell them that the clinic is not able to test for COVID-19. Clarence-Rockland residents can go to the Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 assessment centre at the Brewer Arena, 151 Brewer Way, in Ottawa. The testing centre is for those who have returned from recent travel abroad and show symptoms of Covid-19, or who may have had recent contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19.
Anyone who meets those criteria can call 613-446-7677 and speak to a nurse who will evaluate their symptoms over the phone to decide if they need to see a doctor or should go to the Brewer Arena testing centre.
Public access is now restricted at the Prescott-Russell Residence, following a directive from the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health. The 146-bed long-term care facility, located in Hawkesbury, is home to seniors from all over Prescott-Russell.
The provincial directive urges access to the Residence limited to “essential visitors” until further notice for the safety and well-being of the senior residents. “Essential visitors” include those who visit residents who are very ill or need hospice care. All visitors must submit to a screening procedure and will not be allowed in if they do not pass the procedure.
Visitor access is limited to one visitor per resident at the same time. Family members are asked to use the phone, social media messaging, Skype, or other methods to talk with their relatives at the Residence.
Facility staff and hospice service providers have access to the building. Residence administration will re-evaluate the access restriction policy as it monitors changes in the COVID-19 situation.
All publicly funded schools in Ontario are closed for an extra two weeks following the annual March Spring Break. The provincial government announced the extended school closure, March 12, as part of a provincial COVID-19 containment policy. Both English and French in both public and Catholic school districts will remain closed until April 5.
The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) is restricting access to its main office in L’Orignal. On March 17 most employees at the L'Orignal were asked to work from home until further notice. Residents and all UCPR clients are now asked to phone the UCPR office number with any questions and not go to the office itself.
Except for dealing with emergency cases involving Ontario Works and Housing Services, the UCPR administration office in L'Orignal is closed. The Ontario Works office in Rockland is closed.
All EarlyON Child and Family Centre programs provided through the UCPR social service department are cancelled until further notice. The Rockland EarlyON Centre playroom is closed as of March 17 until further notice.
The Prescott-Russell Licensed Home Child Care Agency has closed all of its home-based daycare outlets as of March 17. They will remain closed until April 5, following a Ministry of Health recommendation. Parents who have contracted with these home-based daycares will not be billed for the closure period.
For all payments related to Early Years Services, provincial offences, and Ontario works, online payment can be done through Paymentus at http://en.prescott-russell.on.ca/services/online_payment.
The Prescott-Russell regional ambulance administrative office in Plantagenet is closed to the public. Paramedics will continue to answer 911 calls.
Any resident who thinks they have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, persistent and worsening cough, and/or difficulty breathing should first call either their doctor, or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 613-933-1375, and describe the symptoms then follow the instructions they receive.
The PR Transpo public transit service is suspended until further notice. People who use the regional transit system must make other travel arrangements.
For all provincial court matters, residents are advised to go to https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/covid-19/ for advice on how to proceed, or consult with their lawyer, the Crown counsel’s office, or call the provincial court registry office in L’Orignal at 613-675-4661 or 1-800-667-6307, extension 2700.
Operation of municipal offices and other facilities, in response to the COVID-19 situation, varies from municipality to municipality in Prescott-Russell. All municipalities are adjusting their operations to maintain basic and essential services for residents. Emergency service calls through 911 are still available.
East Hawkesbury Township office is closed to the public but staff is still at work inside. Residents can phone or email with questions about services or problems. Property tax payments and other fees can be handled either through online banking or by putting the cheque or money in an envelope with a letter explaining what it is for and putting the envelope in the mail drop box at the municipal office in Saint-Eugène.
All community centres and other municipal facilities are closed to the public until further notice.
Champlain Township municipal office and the building and public works departments’ office are closed to the public for the duration, March 17, with access limited to staff. Payments for property taxes and other fees can be done through online banking or by using the secure outside drop box at the township office on Pleasant Corner Road. Residents are asked to phone staff at the municipal office with any questions about services or to deal with problems.
Public access to Hawkesbury Town Hall, on Higginson Street, was still available as of March 16, but only through Door B on the Higginson Street side of the building. Visitors must follow sanitary procedures while inside.
Municipal administration asks residents to avoid going to the office if the matter is not urgent. Phone with any questions or concerns about services and programs. For property tax payments and other fees, use online banking if possible. All payment dates for taxes, water and sewer service fees remain in effect.
The municipal public works office and the Hawkesbury Fire Station are closed to the public though staff will still be on site to deal with day-to-day municipal services and emergencies.
The Hawkesbury Public Library is closed until April 5. Anyone with books are asked to keep them at home until the library reopens, as the library book deposit chute will be locked. Late fees will not apply to the books signed out while the library is closed due to the COVID-19 situation.
The Robert Hartley Sports Complex is closed until further notice under an EOHU Covid-19 prevention directive. All rental fees for reservations affected by the closure are cancelled. Anyone registered for an aquatic class will get a cancellation credit.
Alfred-Plantagenet Township is restricting public access to its municipal office. Staff will be inside to deal with residents’ questions and complaints by phone or email. Payment of property taxes and other fees is possible by online banking, Canada Post, or using the secure exterior drop box at the municipal office in Plantagenet. Dog owners can renew their tags through the online form on the township website or phone the municipal office.
All of the township’s public libraries are closed until further notice. Use the drop boxes for any books which are due.
In Casselman, the municipal office and public library are closed, though staff will be inside to deal with residents’ questions and concerns by phone. The J.R. Brisson Complex and all municipal community centres are closed for the duration. The April 6 community hockey tournament is cancelled.
The March 16 Casselman Public Library Board meeting, the March 24 municipal council meeting, and the March 26 committee of adjustment meeting are all cancelled.
The Nation Municipality office is closed to the public but staff will be at work inside to deal with residents’ needs by phone or by email. For property tax and other fee payments, use the secure outside drop box at the municipal office or go online at https://nationmun.ca for other electronic payment options.
As of March 16, the Rockland municipal office for the City of Clarence-Rockland was still open to the public though residents are urged to phone for help with any problems or concerns unless they are urgent in nature. Phone also for information on online payment or other options for property taxes and other fees.
The Clarence-Rockland Recreation and Cultural Complex, which includes the YMCA and Rockland Public Library, is closed as is the Bourget Public Library. The Clarence Creek Arena and all community halls in Clarence-Rockland are closed. The Clarence-Rockland Arena is closed to the public but access is allowed for students and staff at the Canadian International Hockey Academy for hockey skills instruction, training, and practice.
The Clarence-Rockland municipal daycare is closed until further notice. Mayor Guy Desjardins confirmed during a phone interview Sunday, that council will consult with staff to work a reimbursement plan for parents who have paid in advance for daycare service at the facility.
Limited public access continues at the Russell Township municipal office in Embrun. A bylaw enforcement department officer will be stationed in the foyer to conduct a screening procedure for anyone coming in. Residents are asked to phone instead with questions about services or problems for staff to handle.
Property tax payments and fees for other services can be done online. Check the municipal website for options. Dog tag renewals are extended to May 31.
The municipal daycare is closed as are both arenas, the Sports Dome, bowling alley, and the public library outlets. Staff and council will discuss reimbursement procedure for rental fees and membership during the March 16 council session.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, following the recommendation of the Ontario Ministry of Health, has asked all churches and other places of worship in the Eastern Ontario region to close for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are advised to phone their local church or place of worship for information on the status of any counselling or services offered through the facility.
Job Fair and Entertainment
The Centre de services à l’emploi Employment Services Centre (CSESC) has cancelled the March 28 Employment and Skills Development Fair at Alfred College. The CSESC is looking into compensation for exhibitors, suppliers, and partners. The CSESC office is also closed for the duration, but staff will be available by phone, email, and teleconference to deal with clients’ needs regarding employment.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, following the recommendation of the Ontario Ministry of Health, has asked that all bars, taverns, nightclubs, theatres, and other entertainment-related businesses close for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Hawkesbury Royal Canadian Legion Branch is closed until March 31 or until further notice. All planned special events during that time are cancelled.
The Nation Seniors Association Friends and Members Dinner for March 31 is cancelled.
The Russell Association for the Performing Arts (RAPA) has postponed its spring production of the musical Spamalot to a later date, still to be decided. Go to the RAPA website for information on advance ticket refunds.
Call for information
Changes to public access and/or operating hours for many local, provincial, and federal government offices and agencies are occurring on an almost-daily basis as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Similar changes in access and operating hours are happening for many businesses, community service agencies, recreation groups, and others. If in doubt about whether a particular scheduled event will take place, or if a particular program or service is available during the pandemic, phone for information or consult the website of the agency or person, if one is available.