Low case count communities push back against stay-at-home order

Natalie Tarnawski is not afraid to say that she broke the provincial shutdown Tuesday, by cutting a customer’s hair in her Bayfield salon.

“The government has mandated that it is illegal for me to provide for my family, and I have to, so I’ve been coming in and taking clients who support me and my right to work,” says Tarnawski.

She hasn’t received any fines or warnings, as of yet, but says she’s simply fed up, as are many other businesses in Huron-Perth, where case counts have averaged between two to three cases a day since the beginning of March.

“We are not in the same bubble,” says Tarnawski. “Our economy behaves differently, as well. All the small towns are struggling and I think we need to support each other,” she says.

The head of Bayfield’s Chamber of Commerce agrees.

“I think there’s a misconception that every time we’re open, because our numbers are low, the influx of people from out of town, will make people here sick. That’s not happening. We don’t have the data to support that,” says Leanne Kavanagh, chair of Bayfield and Area’s Chamber of Commerce.

Huron-Perth’s Medical Officer of Health says given enough time, high case counts in surrounding regions would eventually make their way to Huron-Perth.

But Dr. Miriam Klassen says she sympathizes with local businesses forced to closed up shop yet again.

“I’ve heard from a lot of businesses in the past week about what that feels like for them. What the mental and economic toll is on them and their families. And, they’re right, there is a downside to these public health measures. It’s about trying to strike the right balance,” she says.

That balance has Tarnawski considering continuing working through, even when the stay-at-home order takes effect on Thursday.

“It’s also my clients now who could be fined for leaving their home to get a service done here. It’s really another blow when I think I can start working again and providing for myself, and getting the confidence to do so. Because it is a really scary thing to do, and it’s a really lonely road to go down,” she says.

Tarnawski says she’ll take her decision to take clients or not throughout the stay-at-home order on a day-by-day basis.