July 22 was a challenging day for businesses in Barry’s Bay as three statements were issued regarding temporary closure/staff shortages in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) followed by distributing a media release on July 23 warning residents of three new cases and as many as 20 high-risk contacts and four workplace outbreaks. Click HERE to read the full release entitled ‘New COVID-19 Cases in Renfrew County and District Bring Stark Reminder About Importance of Getting Vaccinated.’
Response from local businesses
Two Barry’s Bay businesses and Seat of Wisdom College had preceded RCDHU’s statement with their own messaging on July 22.
Ash Grove Inn: A positive COVID-19 result was confirmed just before the owners of the Ash Grove Inn completed the finishing touches for a big bash on Saturday July 24 to welcome new owners to the business after 26 years. Their initial Facebook post on July 22 informed customers that due to staffing shortages they would open only for take-out from lunch time and they followed up with more detail about hours and menus for the next three days. Social media commenters were quick to congratulate them on their transparency.
Madawaska Coffee Co. also used social media on the afternoon of July 22 to notify customers they had closed their Barry’s Bay café and again social media followers thanked them for their openness. The statement points out that only the Barry’s Bay location is affected; their new Pembroke café remains open.
Seat of Wisdom College issued the following statement in the late evening of July 22:
“We are sad to inform the community that a staff member of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College has tested positive for COVID-19. We understand that two SWC students on summer break, who later tested positive for COVID-19, unfortunately spread the virus among some members of the broader SWC community while on a visit to Barry’s Bay. We are working closely with the Renfrew County and District Health Unit to ensure that the staff member and close contacts in our employ are following the Health Unit’s instructions. The only course in session at this time is an online course. We will keep the community informed of any further developments. Thank you for your understanding.”
The response to SWC from social media readers was mixed. Some commenters offered prayers for recovery while others weighed in complaining about past involvement of SWC students and community in anti-mask or anti-lockdown demonstrations. Some SWC faculty members are on record questioning public health guidelines for masking and vaccination in online articles for platforms such as LifeSite News and Catholic Insights.
At time of publication, the fourth local business has not yet made a public statement. The Current will provide updates as information becomes available.