How are things in Flin Flon in these strange COVID-19 times, you might be asking? (We hope you are asking and not simply hunkered down with the entire Margaret Atwood library till it passes). Well, Flin Flon is weathering the storm really well (we have had other storms to contend with, but usually weather-related). There have only been three infected persons in the north of the province as of this writing and no new infections for over six weeks now, thanks in large part to stringent travel restrictions from the south and to the genuine concern for their citizen peers shown by those who have to travel for medical appointments and who self-isolate for 14 days on their return. We have been very lucky.
Flin Flon is slowly reopening, a process that is taking the necessary time. The staff of the Northern Health Region established a testing centre in the Flin Flon Community Hall Auditorium very early on and have been able to test routinely, following provincial guidelines. We have been blessed by zero cases in the long-term care facilities in town. We experienced the loss of our only general surgeon and of the anaesthetist, last month, though have not really felt the hardship of the loss as elective surgeries have been suspended all over Manitoba. During the summer we may expect to feel it more acutely.
The North of 53 Co-op has been open throughout and the staff are vigilant, with limited numbers of shoppers allowed in the store and distancing rules strictly adhered to. The staff hand out gloves to shoppers and clean the shopping carts after every use. We have not even experienced much in the way of shortages at the grocery store though that could be changing now. The Co-op has always offered delivery services to seniors, but they expanded that dramatically during April and May. The local hardware store has also reopened now, meaning people who were confined to the home and were spring cleaning can now buy paint and lumber for those projects they have been meaning to get to.
Local restaurants have been providing kerbside pick-up for meals and Creighton’s Pizza has been serving cook-at-home pizza kits to customers. Unfortunately, the Victoria Inn Hotel has been impacted very dramatically and has had to revert to a very thin skeleton staff. They are unable to operate as a hotel, a restaurant, a lounge or a bar. There are no club meetings. It is very sad. The “Vic” has been a fantastic supporter of the arts in town so we hope they can come bouncing back.
The Flin Flon Arts Council cancelled the remainder of their season which would have seen the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School here in March, the Winnipeg Chamber Orchestra in April and a Flin Flon Community Choir performance of ‘Carmina Burana’ in May. The Choir was very disappointed that their trip to New York City to perform ‘Carmina Burana’ at Carnegie Hall was cancelled, also in April. Distinguished Concerts International of New York was of course forced to withdraw. There had been some discussion of another opportunity to perform in NYC, perhaps in 2021. But if large crowds can gather again in the next year, Flin Flon has its own home-grown tradition of a musical theatre production in the spring of odd years so, 2021 is scheduled to be all about the musical (and we are not being coy, it simply has not been announced yet! That usually happens in September).
Blueberry Jam Music Gathering has also been cancelled for August of 2020 on the understanding that it will not be safe to have large gatherings. The Board of Blueberry Jam has authorized the Program Committee to plan and present musical performances by local artists on social media platforms so we will be in for some treats on our decks as the weather improves.
All in all, we are well.