CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Barry Moores jokes he’s an expert at self-isolation.
“I’ve been doing this since the 90s,” says Moores.
The Clarenville man has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. He says getting out of the house, especially in winter, has always been rare for him.
While he is a client and proponent of the CREST bus, Moores says he only uses it a handful of times in a year.
However, Moores says the service is amazing for the local people who need it regularly.
"I don’t get out a lot, so when I do — it’s really important,” says Moores.
“I can really appreciate and really feel for people who have to rely on the service and have to go back to square one and go back to another plan.”
While the message during the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay indoors — it seems like common sense for a service designed to get people out of the house to suspend its operation.
Spokesperson Larry Reid told The Packet the operating board decided to shut down the service for at least two weeks, once local retirement homes locked out the public as a precaution to combat coronavirus. He adds most routine appointments have been cancelled.
“The people that were being transported are probably the highest at risk of any in the population,” says Reid.
The CREST bus is a community service which picks up seniors or those with disabilities, and drives them to appointments, shopping centres and elsewhere in the Clarenville region.
In addition to protecting their riders, Reid says they also want to ensure volunteers who help run the service are not exposed. Many of the people who volunteer their time as drivers or in other positions are also seniors.
Reid also says they don’t have a lot of resources to spend on the extensive cleaning supplies it would take to thoroughly sanitize the bus to the level needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he says many of their regular riders have indicated they won't be making unnecessary trips out of the house anyway.
“I think most people are doing the minimal amount of exposure to others.”
He says the board will monitor the situation in the future, and make further decisions based on the situation at that time.
Moores, who is considered immunosuppressed, is also fully supportive of the need to shut down the bus.
In a time of great risk, Moores says he’s not overly worried for himself and says he “doesn’t spook easy.”
But he also said this crisis presents plenty of challenges for people dealing with disabilities, especially with the precautions being taken.
This time of year, people with disabilities are normally assessed for home care and income supplements by the regional health authority.
Moores has been working towards filing paperwork looking ahead to the deadline in April.
“Disabled people are wondering what impact the pandemic is going to have on the regional health authorities and what impact that’s going to have on us.”
Moores also wanted to recognize his home care agency and home care workers for everything they do.
“These people are my heroes … it goes without saying that anyone that’s helping me in this system, my family and I are forever humbled and forever grateful to these people and to this system.”