'Things are going to be different'

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It started March 16 as a 14-day voluntary self-quarantine for Woodstock’s Cheryl-Ann and Jason Lovie after returning from a 10-day vacation in Jamaica.

It ended Monday, March 30 – and it was no longer voluntary. The 14-day self-isolation period had become mandatory when the Government of Canada announced a Quarantine Act on March 25.

For travellers returning home without symptoms, that means:

Going directly to your place of quarantine, without delay, and staying there for 14 days.

Not going to school, work, other public areas and community settings.

Monitoring your health for symptoms of COVID-19.

Arranging to have someone pick up essentials like groceries or medication for you.

Not having visitors.

Staying in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air.

Keeping a distance of at least two arms lengths (approximately two metres or six feet) from others.

“We’re done Monday,” said Cheryl-Ann. “It’s been 14 days.”

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Originally they planned to keep their business (The Comfort Guy) open while in isolation. Cheryl-Ann gave her first virtual estimate on March 17, and stayed in touch with their staff, who worked with personal protective gear, by phone and electronically. By the end of the week, however, the Lovies decided to close the business for day-to-day work and only focus on pre-scheduled work and emergencies.

“We’ve done a few emergency installations, but Jason and I have not left home. The kids have been delivering us groceries.

“We feel like we’re the safest people because we haven’t had any contact for 14 days with anybody but ourselves,” Cheryl-Ann laughed. “We feel like there’s no guess work.

“It wasn’t that bad. The most horrible thing of all is that I couldn’t hug and kiss my grandchildren. That was the worst. And I think that before I get into ‘the world’ I want to go over and hug and kiss them, because they haven’t been out at all. They had come home from Arizona two or three days before us, so they have been in isolation too. Since we’re all safe for one moment in time, I’m going to go give them a hug and kiss before I get started out in the public again this week – because after that, I don’t think you can.”

Cheryl-Ann planned a trip to the grocery store – and contact with the ‘outside’ world.

“I’m ready for the experience,” she said, aware of new safety measures that have been introduced in grocery stores including cashier barriers, longer ‘safe distance’ lineups, frequent sanitization of conveyor belts, debit machines and shopping carts, and new hours.

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“They are all taking those kinds of precautions, and I feel like life’s never going to be the same again. It’s never going to go back… I think we’re going to see more hand sanitizers, people are going to be more evasive, and I think we’re going to have our own spaces. I believe things are going to be different. I don’t think it’s going to be a bad thing, I just think our way of life is going to change.

“I think what you’re going to see is new products created, there’s going to be new advantages for businesses to find better ways to serve customers,” she said, citing self-sanitizing conveyor belts as an example. “Things are going to change. There is going to be innovation coming from this and I think we can’t look at this as all bad. We have to look at how we can learn from this and just change our reality.

“It’s just going to be different, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad. It’s just going to be changed forever now. This is history making – this is something that’s never happened before. So everybody has to learn their own way and spend a little bit more time with their family and appreciate a little bit more what they do have.”

While in isolation, aside from some work-from-home and brainstorming future plans for the company, Cheryl-Ann decided to start writing a book. She joined a group that meets two hours daily at 8:30 a.m.

“We just write. No critique, no editing. We just write. Then in a month’s time, we evaluate what we’ve got and go from there. It’s not something that I planned, it’s just something to fill that space and get up every day and have something that’s worthwhile.

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“It’s been pretty good, really. No fights,” she smiled, looking back at the self-quarantine. “My husband has also been busy working on his race car in the meantime. He races stock car in Delaware and builds his own cars, so he’s been taking this opportunity to do some of that.

“So it’s been good actually. No real issues here, but I am looking forward to quoting an emergency furnace installation – not virtual. That will be our first step out, we’re going to go to the office to do some stuff.”

She is also looking forward to a day when there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are going to be protected, it will happen.”

cabbott@postmedia.com