Residents at a personal care home in west Winnipeg were met with balloons, heart-shaped signs and honks outside their windows this Mother’s Day during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loved ones held a small parade outside Extendicare Oakview Place near the city’s airport early Sunday afternoon.
George Bradley said he is showing appreciation for his 91-year-old mother, other vulnerable seniors and their caregivers from a safe physical distance to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Unfortunately we can’t go in and give her hugs and kisses so we’ll have to do a drive-by parade and wish her a happy Mother’s Day the only way we know how to this year,” he said.
He said the last time he used art supplies to make a card and blew up a balloon was when he was a young kid in his mother’s care.
A procession of people riding in more than a dozen vehicles slowly made their way around the premises in the St. James neighbourhood while honking and waving at people inside the home.
Signs and balloons attached to the moving cars accentuated their heart-filled cheers.
Colin Wiltshire said recreation staff at the home came up with the idea and extended the invite to family and friends of the residents who are living there.
“We just wanted to kind of you know get out on Mother’s Day to try to do anything that we could in unusual circumstances,” he said.
Wiltshire said he wanted to spend a few moments, at a distance, with the moms, grandmothers, aunties and other parents, guardians and caregivers in the high-risk environment.
“These people are our history, our legacy, and it’s the very least that we could do to tell them that we love them and we’re thinking about them and we wish them well and for them to stay safe.”
He looks forward to the day he can laugh and joke around with his mom by her side.
On Friday, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin reminded Manitobans to maintain physical distancing “whenever possible” — particularly to protect people who are most at-risk such as those over age 65, those with underlying medical conditions such as respiratory or cardiac disease, and those with compromised immune systems.
“We need to ensure we’re protecting those that are most vulnerable to the severe outcomes of this of this virus,” he said.
The Manitoba government loosened public health orders to allow some non-essential businesses to reopen as of last Monday, although access to personal care homes and health-care facilities remains restricted.
Rianna Thomson said her grandfather lives at the home, so she brought his two grandchildren and a “grand-puppy” for him to meet through the window.
“If we can’t have them in person then this is the next best thing,” she said.