Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Ten months after COVID crippled the country, Gravenhurst residents will finally be able to rely on regular access to a corona virus test without having to leave town.

After token testing at popular Muskoka Paramedic pop-ups, Shoppers Drug Mart has been officially designated by the province to provide asymptomatic testing for residents who do not have any symptoms, and no reason to believe they may have COVID-19.

Thursday morning Mayor Paul Kelly, MPP Norman Miller and Simon Lu, the associate owner and pharmacist will make a formal announcement at 8:30 a.m. at the store.

“We heard from the community that there was a need for the ability for people in Gravenhurst to have testing closer at hand.  I am pleased that as a result of conversations with our local Shoppers Drug Mart and the province, this will come to fruition,” said Kelly.

Huntsville has two permanent testing centres — one at the Shoppers and one at the Active Living Centre at the Summit Centre arenas.

Bracebridge has one at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital.

An email to Loblaw public relations this afternoon elicited this response to

Select Shoppers Drug Mart locations, including Gravenhurst starting tomorrow, are providing COVID tests for high priority, asymptomatic Ontarians.

They replied in an email to that the tests are by appointment only, and only after the patient has been pre-screened to determine that they meet this criteria — specifically, that they do not have symptoms, have not had close contact with anyone who has or is presumed to have COVID-19, have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days and really have no reason to believe they may have COVID-19.

Tests are for people who need a negative COVID test for a number of reasons. Individuals who are considered high priority have been defined by the Ontario government, and include:

  • Residents and workers at long-term care homes;
  • Visitors to long-term care homes;
  • Residents or workers in homeless shelters;
  • International students who have passed 14-day quarantine period;
  • Farm workers; and
  • Individuals requiring COVID test for travel clearance and have not been in contact with someone with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days.

Both the pharmacists and the patients are expected to wear PPE throughout the procedure, and we have robust sanitization practices in place.

Premier Doug Ford was in Huntsville last month to launch testing at Shoppers. The province has now expanded the number of pharmacies that will provide asymptomatic testing for residents who do not have any symptoms, and no reason to believe they may have COVID-19.



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