Local businesses are re-opening, welcoming the province beginning to ease COVID-19related restrictions.

The Government of Ontario allowed some businesses and industries to reopen starting May 4, as long as they comply with public health measures. The list included garden centres, landscaping, car washes and auto dealerships. Other sectors impacted included construction, marinas and golf courses.

The province further announced May 6 that retailers with street entrances would be able to open for pickup and delivery starting May 11. Garden centres will be able to open for in-store purchases May 8. Hardware and safety supply stores can also open for in-store purchases May 9.

The Haliburton County Home Builders Association said in a release it’s glad to see the province easing its restrictions and expanding its scope of essential construction projects to include site preparation, excavation and servicing for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development.

“Building new homes and communities is a long, complicated process and requires different construction activities over a number of seasons” HCHBA president Keith Thomas said. “Losing the entire construction season for site servicing would set our local housing supply back and risk the homes that our clients are looking to move into next year. Under the new provincial guidelines, we will continue to deliver homes safely today and in the future.”

Marinas also welcomed the news that they could begin preparations for the boating season by servicing watercraft and placing them in the water, though buildings remain closed to the public. Boating Ontario had requested eased restrictions in a release April 24. Ann Gordon co-owns Haliburton RPM and they had advocated getting doors open for staff to prepare for the season.

“It’s going to take us four-to-six weeks to get the boats ready before they can even go off. It made good sense to open the marinas,” Gordon said. “When it does open up and cottagers are allowed to come up, the boats are ready.”

The province released its framework April 27 to begin mass reopening. It proposed businesses to start reopening in phases, based on several criteria, including a two to four week decline in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.

Although the plan has not started rolling out, other businesses are taking it as a sign to start re-opening. Gordon’s other business, the Kozy Korner restaurant, is also opening again after being closed since March. Although restaurants have been allowed to stay open for takeout throughout the pandemic, Gordon said the province’s moves influenced her decision to open the restaurant’s doors again.

“I just think people are getting more comfortable with what they can do and what they can’t do and they’re not totally in their houses anymore,” Gordon said.

Gordon said she feels safe running businesses right now, with measures such as social distancing and limited entry in place. However, she added she has concerns with another spike of COVID-19 cases occurring as the economy opens.

“But you’ve got to live with what you’ve got to live with,” she said.

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