By: Michelle Poirier

With public health officials repeatedly urging people to practice social distancing and to self-isolate at home for weeks, it looks like the message is getting through to Georgina residents.

“I’m personally staying away from public places. My anxiety is through the roof, I won’t even go to the doctor to have my anxiety medication refilled,” said Lesley Sedore, a mother of two, an 11-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, who lives in Sutton.

Ms. Sedore asked her workplace for minimal shifts for the next three weeks so she could look after her kids. But she has a friend bring groceries to her house because she can’t bring herself to go outside.

Ms. Sedore’s mother passed away in 2009 due to being immune-compromised during the H1N1 pandemic and says this is exacerbating her anxiety.

“I think it has a lot to do with it. When something like that hits so close to home, it’s kind of impossible not to panic a little,” she said.

Lesley and her kids Brooklyn and Carter

Ms. Sedore is not the only one afraid to leave her house. Liane Austin-Vickers, who lives in Keswick, is also staying indoors.

“I have severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and can’t risk getting sicker,” she said.

Ms. Austin-Vickers lives with her children and partner. Her daughter, who is diabetic and asthmatic, is also self-isolating after returning home from University. Her son is awaiting his workplace to relocate employees to remote locations, and her partner works at a low-risk job, and he is the one going out to do the shopping.

“I am not leaving the house until this passes,” she said.

Ms. Austin-Vickers says they are all coping okay; her daughter Laine is bored and is unsure of how her University will figure out the end of year labs and marks, but she is glad to be home after getting over a bout of pneumonia.

But while most residents are staying-in, some are venturing outside with their families, while, of course, practicing social or physical distancing — keeping a minimum of two metres away from others.

Colin McKenna, a Keswick resident and father of three young children, a newborn, 4-year-old and 7-year-old, is following the government’s directives and turning them into something useful, picking-up litter.

“Turn your social distance into social good this weekend,” Mr. McKenna posted on Facebook along with a picture of the garbage he and his children picked out of the ditches along Lake Simcoe.

“We aren’t quarantined, but we are not taking the (children) to public places. We won’t be spending all our time doing this surely. But a couple of times, I hope to take them out,” said Mr. McKenna.

Meanwhile, residents of Georgina Island are also self-isolating. Theresa Marianne BigCanoe is living by herself and has not left the island in a week.

“As a resident of Georgina Island, I haven’t stepped foot out of my door since this news broke,” she said. “I do want to make one last trip to stock up and ride this out completely.”

While Health Canada officials recommend to stock up on essentials, they also say to avoid panic buying, which has been seen across the province with shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and non-perishable foods wiped clean.

On Georgina’s community Facebook groups, you can see residents upset with the panic buying and offering to buy and deliver necessities to elderly or immune-compromised individuals who have been unable to go for themselves.

Thankfully, several local retailers and grocers have adjusted their hours to ensure more “vulnerable” senior residents can get what they need. Shoppers Drug Market, in Keswick and Sutton, are dedicating their first opening hour to customers who “need assistance and consideration,” including seniors 65 and older and people with disabilities.

Shoppers will also offer the 20 per cent discount for Seniors Day discount on regular priced items for the first hour or each day.

Also, the Keswick Zehrs store on Woodbine Ave. will be opening everyday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors to shop.

And, Sobeys, located on Dalton Rd in Sutton, will also open for seniors everyday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

With the province mandating restaurants, bars and other non-essential buildings close to the public, many more people will be staying home. And, for parents, like Ms. Sedore, with kids suffering from cabin fever, it’s going to be a challenge.

“The kids are fine with being home from school, obviously, but I’m limiting their interaction with other kids, and my daughter is not happy about it. A lot of people think I’m overreacting, but I don’t know any other way to cope, it’s consuming my every waking thought,” she said.

If you at home with kids, there are some online resources to help pass the time, and keep them engaged.

While the Georgina Public Library has shut all branches until April 5, it does offer a list of online resources such as e-book borrowing, indoor activities, educational materials and movies for kids with library cards at

Schools are closed until April 6, but York Region District School Board does offer online resources for children to keep them learning while not in school, they are organized by grade and subject ar

The provincial government has also launched a new online learning portal, called Learn at home, which provides curriculum studies for elementary and secondary students.

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