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Inverness residents frustrated after tourist fails to self-isolate

The Route 19 Brewing Inc. facility was opened by a group of investors in April 2019. It includes a brewhouse, tasting room, retail shop and 300-seat restaurant. FILE PHOTO
The Route 19 Brewing Inc. facility was opened by a group of investors in April 2019. It includes a brewhouse, tasting room, retail shop and 300-seat restaurant. FILE PHOTO
INVERNESS, N.S. —

Residents of a scenic seaside Cape Breton town are expressing frustration after a tourist didn’t follow proper COVID-19 public health protocols, forcing the closure of a local restaurant and bar.

On Tuesday, Route 19 Brewing announced it was closing its taproom because a customer who was there Sunday hadn’t self-isolated after travelling from outside Atlantic Canada.

Jim Mustard
Jim Mustard

When asked to describe the conversations he’s had with people in the area, Inverness County Coun. Jim Mustard summed things up Wednesday with this prevailing sentiment: “‘Really? This had to happen?’”

Mustard said while he’s not entirely surprised that someone from outside the Atlantic bubble didn’t self-isolate for the mandated 14 days, news of the weekend incident “kind of unsettles people.” 

“We just feel in our small rural community that the vulnerability is always there in terms of how exposed we are. A lot of people come through Inverness County for tourism and we’re not there to check everyone. It undermines your belief that everyone is being responsible and paying attention to that responsibility.”

RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau said Wednesday that members from the Inverness detachment charged a 38-year-old woman from British Columbia under the Health Protection Act on Monday at about 6:15 p.m.

The charge carries a $1,000 fine. The accused can pay the fine or contest it in court.

“It’s a ticket that we give to the person, similar to a traffic offence,” said Croteau.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

People walk by the Coal Miners Café on Route 19 in Inverness in this file photo. Residents of the scenic seaside town are expressing frustration after a tourist who didn’t follow proper COVID-19 public health protocols forced the closure of a nearby restaurant and bar. FILE PHOTO
People walk by the Coal Miners Café on Route 19 in Inverness in this file photo. Residents of the scenic seaside town are expressing frustration after a tourist who didn’t follow proper COVID-19 public health protocols forced the closure of a nearby restaurant and bar. FILE PHOTO

It was still business as usual Wednesday at the Coal Miners Café, less than a kilometre down Route 19 from where the incident took place.

Nadine MacDonald, a server at the popular eatery, said that since they reopened after some restrictions lifted staff have been asking customers for their names and phone numbers in the event someone tests positive for COVID-19.

The restaurant has also reduced the number of tables from 13 to eight to help with social-distancing guidelines, and if there’s a diner from outside the area, they ask if they’ve been following the recommended guidelines.

“If we were to have someone from out of town, we kind of question them about it,” she said. “What we do is we ask those questions and we ask for a name and phone number so just in case that was to happen, we could call everyone who was here during that time period.”

Mustard said Inverness is still welcoming large numbers of people at popular destinations like Inverness beach and Egypt Falls, despite the pandemic-related travel restrictions. While he believes many of those people are from within the Atlantic bubble, a number of people from other parts of Canada and the United States have summer homes in the area.

He just hopes they know — and follow — the regulations.

“We’re trusting everybody is doing their job. Everybody — the individual, the messaging at the airport‚ the messaging at the borders — and everybody is taking their responsibility.”

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