Haliburton County’s construction and retail sectors began further reopening May 19 after the province lifted some restrictions.
Ontario launched stage one of its COVID-19 reopening plan. It means if proper public health safety protocols are followed, all construction can proceed, and retail stores with street-front entrances can open with limited capacity.
G.J. Burtch Construction Enterprises Ltd. owner and Haliburton County Home Builders Association representative Gary Burtch said although the health restrictions will be in place for a long time, starting more construction will be a boon for the County.
“At least we’re able to get going,” Burtch said. “That will help the economy of the town and the County, so I’m happy about that.”
The province is also allowing businesses such as vehicle dealerships, marinas, golf driving ranges, pet care and more to start reopening. Burtch said working with new restrictions around sanitation and distancing takes some getting used to. But builders have dealt with those restrictions in recent weeks, having been allowed to continue ongoing projects and do some work such as site grading.
“For us up here, we’re working in the bush,” Burtch said. “There’s enough space.”
The County’s four townships are again issuing building permits.
Up River Trading Co. is one of the retail stores opening this week. It’s been closed since March 22 due to the pandemic. Owner Paul Roy said they are following government safety guidelines, adding screens, touchless pay and limiting capacity.
“We’re very excited. Looking forward to seeing all of our customers back,” Roy said. “We feel very comfortable opening.”
The business ran an online shop while it was closed. Roy said it did not compare to having a physical space but they were very pleased with the support they received.
“We’re happy to be able to open in more of a limited capacity and hopefully, as it progresses, it will become a little bit more like normal again,” Roy said.
Meanwhile, governments and agencies are still offering businesses support due to the crisis.
The Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) rolled out the federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund May 15, aiding “main street” businesses such as retailers and restaurants with new loans of up to $40,000.
“Sole proprietors, social enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” HCDC executive director Patti Tallman said. “We look forward to delivering this critical program to our local community.”
Burtch said it should be full steam ahead for the construction sector. Thus far, he said he has not heard of any local construction projects getting held off due to economic circumstances, though he acknowledged that could happen.
“Let’s get rolling,” he said.