By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Senior citizens will be able to again socialize at the Martin Bloom Pavilion, which is a lifeline for many seniors whose families may be spread out over long distances. The center plans to reopen Monday, Nov. 9 with certain limitations.
According to the center’s coordinator, Marianne Christian, some of the city’s senior citizens are active in their own little circle at home, but others really need to get out, even if only for two hours.
“We’re trying really hard to keep in touch with them, especially those without family members,” she said.
The center, which has been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will reopen, although programs will be restricted to just playing cards, Recreation Director Andrew Miles said.
Some programs, such as exercise, chair yoga and Tai Chi, have been held outdoors since July.
“We were getting about 20-25 people a day, and now is the time of the year when it usually drops off. But not this year. This year, we have about 20 seniors coming regularly. They really need to get out of the house,” she said.
Outdoor programs will continue as long as the weather holds up, Miles said.
The senior bus program has been running since mid-September to pick up seniors to take them to the Somers Point ShopRite at 9:15 and 10:15 Wednesdays and Fridays. The bus also visits Boscov’s and Walmart twice a month and will transport seniors for doctor appointments. However, there are only three passengers allowed on the bus at any one time, and it has to be sanitized between runs. Seniors are required to use hand sanitizer and wear a mask.
The bus will also pick up and transport seniors to the center, but reservations are required.
“Our driver has been really busy,” Christian said.
Seniors will be welcome to play cards during the morning shift, 9-11:30 a.m. Then the center will close for an hour to allow surfaces to be wiped down and sanitized. The afternoon shift will be 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
“It’s not that long compared to them usually being here until 3:30 p.m., but it’s something,” Christian said.
Although the center will be open, no food will be served. Seniors are welcome to bring their own bottled water or coffee, but they cannot bring in their own lunch, Miles said.
Social distancing protocol requires mask wearing at all times. There is a 24 person limit on the second floor gathering room and eight in the first floor game room.
Seniors will be required to bring their own cards and games.
“We have some things here, but only those that can be wiped down between uses,” Miles said.
Because there’s a limit to the number of people allowed in the building at any one time, seniors are advised to make reservations in advance by calling the Bloom Pavilion at 609-822-2285.
Christian said reservations have been slow in coming, but she is hoping that when word gets out, more seniors will take advantage of the opportunity to do some socializing.
“Some of our seniors haven’t been out at all and really need to get out, even if it’s for an hour or two,” she said. “In any case, I hope and pray things will get back to normal as soon as possible. We’re really trying to keep those who want to get out as active as possible.”
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