I think I’m more excited about the Leafs returning to training camp than Stage 3 of the province’s reopening July 17, but that’s just me.

In the midst of COVID-19, I can’t think of any greater distraction than watching the Buds attempt to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, or as some have dubbed it, ‘The COVID Cup,’ in 2020.

Despite the seemingly convoluted playoff format, the unlikeliness of hockey in August, and the fact it could all be nixed by a second wave of COVID-19, I have the August dates circled in my calendar and will soon place my call to Bell to ensure the sports channels are back on the TV for the August to fall hockey binge-athon I plan on having.

I think I, and we, have earned it after nearly five months of COVID.

Sure, I have heard the criticism of professional sport during the pandemic. I sincerely believe our frontline health workers, our grocery store clerks, and everyone else who has had to be ‘out there’ during COVID is deserving of the hero tag.

We know we can survive without overpriced NHL hockey players. However, many of us have found our lives to be somewhat lacking without pro sports and other similar distractions. So, let the games begin.

As for July 17’s reopenings, don’t get me wrong, I welcome them, too. It’s great news for Haliburton County. It means nearly all businesses and public spaces are now open to the general public.

A number of our accommodators have reported people coming during Stage 2 but losses of revenue due to their inability to host larger gatherings and weddings. With the province saying up to 100 can gather outside, and 50 inside, some of those events may return to local calendars.

In terms of public gatherings, we’re talking community events, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals and open houses.

The reopenings don’t apply to everything. There’s to be no buffets, dancing at restaurants and bars, overnight stays at camps for kids, karaoke, or prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sport. I am saddened by the impact this has on our summer camps.

The real boon is for other businesses. It means our restaurants and bars can finally open to dining in and our gyms and fitness centres can get back to business. They are getting used to mandating all of their patrons to wear masks this week and now have to figure out what Stage 3 means for them. For some, it’s opening for the first time in months. For others, it’s again refining how they do business.

As members of the public, we can help them by simply doing what is being asked of us. We might as well get used to it as it appears Stage 3 will be our reality likely until a vaccine is rolled out either later this year, or into 2021.

Other things to keep in mind? As for your social circle, you’re advised to stick with the 10 you brought in Stage 2. Continue to physical distance, wear that mask and wash your hands.

The other good news announced July 13 is that daycare centres can reach about 90 per cent of pre-COVID capacity come July 22, and the province is planning for a conventional, daily delivery, return to school in September.

So, in conclusion, Go Leafs Go, and Go Haliburton County Go!

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