StephenVance 270In the midst of this unprecedented COVID-19 epidemic we are all being bombarded with one scary news story after another, and we have been adjusting to increasing restrictions on our movements. And while many businesses have been ordered by the province to shut down, there are still many that are operating, often under revised conditions – in spite of this virus, Meaford is still open for business.

Though we have been ordered to stay at home, there are obviously times when we need to venture out for necessities like groceries or medications. But there are far more businesses still operating in this municipality, and they are ready to serve your needs during this pandemic.

While restaurants have been ordered to close their dining areas, many still provide take-out options. Some of those restaurants previously had a healthy take-out business, while others have had to adapt and bolster their take-out abilities. The Leeky Canoe, for example, has installed a take-out window at their downtown establishment, and customers can phone in their orders and pick them up at the window without having to even enter the building.

Other local favourites like Amici, Sail, or Gio & Fran's, to name a few, are also open and ready to serve take-out orders. Fast food restaurants like Subway, McDonald's, New Orleans Pizza, and Dairy Queen, long the go-to for take-out food have remained open, and all have had to make changes to how they serve customers, and how they distance those who come into their establishments, but all are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

When it comes to groceries, our local store has done well to accommodate the new reality, and though there have been shortages of some items from time to time, for the most part we've all been able to gather the supplies we need. Fortunately in Meaford there are alternatives for food shopping that can help take some pressure off the grocery store. Grandma Lambe's is a popular local spot that offers a range of food products, and the local Bulk Bin has come in clutch in recent weeks, as have the convenience stores that we've all come to rely on just a little bit more during this time.

Our basic needs aside, there are other businesses that are still operating as best they can during this unprecedented time, and we should all do our best to support all of these businesses as best we can. It is tough enough to keep a business running in small towns these days, and a crisis like this is bound to crush many small businesses, particularly if we shift all of our purchasing to online sources.

There has been much talk of, and action around, ensuring that we all take any opportunity to express our gratitude to our frontline healthcare workers along with all of our emergency services, who are risking their own health for the greater good every day that they head into work. We definitely should express appreciation for these fine folks. But we should also be equally appreciative of all of those businesses and their dedicated employees who continue to operate during this time, risking their health to serve customers day in and day out often for little more than minimum wage. We all should be expressing our gratitude for these fine folks as well.

The reality is that while this virus is first and foremost a health emergency, it has also brought the world economy to a virtual halt, and around the world communities are dealing with many of the same issues that we are now and will be dealing with in the future here at home. We've never seen economies brought to a halt with intention like this before, and there will no doubt be debates for years to come about what we did right and what we did wrong, but at the moment we need to focus on the here and now, and leave those debates for another day.

So, while many businesses in Meaford are still open, many are struggling to pay the bills. In this week's print paper we offered free ads to Meaford businesses that want to let residents know that they are still open and ready to serve your needs. Pick up a copy of this week's print paper and use it as a directory before heading out in order to see if the business you want to visit is open.

Support these local businesses: we need them, and they need you. The new normal might also mean we need to help each other out a little more than we used to.

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