Coronavirus: Montreal seniors defying Quebec’s order to stay home during COVID-19 pandemic

The Quebec provincial government has repeatedly said that senior citizens are the ones most likely to be killed by COVID-19, and that nobody older than 70 years old should be leaving their house right now.

Many seniors, however, are simply not listening.

At Plaza Pointe Claire, signs are posted on the doors, reading, “Are you over 70 years old? Please stay home.”

Even though the warning is clear, seniors are still flocking to the mall.

“Well, you’ve got to live, you can’t crawl under a stone and hide,” said 77-year-old David Butler. He said he’s washing his hands a lot and trying to keep his distance from people.

“I’m not going to give in.”

Ordering groceries by phone or online is being encouraged, with many stores increasing their delivery options.

“Oh yes, but I like to choose my own,” said senior Daimi Dahlroos as she headed to the grocery store.

“I don’t usually do anything online in the first place, because to me it’s unsafe and insecure,” said 69-year-old Michael Orgee.

Harry Schick runs Swiss Vienna Pastry, and said there are far fewer seniors at Plaza Pointe Claire than usual.

“It’s very, very quiet. Traffic is down by 80 per cent and at our store, sales are down by 50 per cent,” he explained.

Schick himself is 70 years old. He’s working on setting up a delivery option for his store, but he doesn’t want to close yet.

“If I close up, 15 or 16 people are out of jobs, and how long can a business survive without sales?” he told Global News.

A bus from a Chartwell seniors’ residence was seen picking someone up from a trip to the mall. In a statement, Chartwell explained that their residents still need medical services from the doctors and pharmacy there, but many are still just going to Plaza Pointe Claire to shop or take a walk.

“We’re going to stay home now that we have supplies, yes,” said Allan Irvine.

“Maybe it’s going to take some time before people start realizing this is a serious matter,” said 65-year-old Alice Bresciani, who was waiting outside the grocery store for her husband, having refused to go in due to virus fears.

Clinical psychologist Pierre Faubert said it’s hard for people to change behaviour when they have not seen the effects of COVID-19 first-hand.

“I think for most people this is still quite academic. We’re not feeling it,” Faubert explained. “It’s not like the ice storm. I mean you look out your window, there was no electricity — you couldn’t move.”

Now that Quebec has seen its first coronavirus-related death, the premier hopes seniors will realize why they need to stay home.

“It’s very dangerous.”

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