People returned to playgrounds and indoor businesses July 17 as the provincial government began stage three of its reopening plan.

The phase allowed for most indoor businesses and public spaces to open their doors with safety measures in place, including previously shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms. Haliburton County townships were also allowed to open playgrounds for the public.

The Kosy Korner in Haliburton reopened right away, after being closed since March. After renovating the restaurant during the hiatus, owner Ann Gordon said she felt ready.

“It’s been hard times in COVID. We need to make money or else,” Gordon said. “There was no need to wait. We had the glass barrier put up, we have the sanitizer, all the regulations are in place.”

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit laid out those regulations, extending its mask mandate to include all newly opening indoor spaces.

The health unit advises continued physical distancing but also said people can take off masks when they are no longer “roaming,” such as taking a seat at a restaurant or using equipment at an indoor gym.

“There is logic behind it,” communications officer Bill Eekhof said. “As people walk around in indoor facilities, they are likely to walk into your space, increasing the potential of transmission … Once people are seated at the appropriate distance from others that are not within their household or social circle, the risk is significantly minimized.”

Parents and children also came to playgrounds over the weekend after townships reopened them. Ron Boucher visited the playground at Head Lake Park with his grandchildren July 18.

“They’ve been asking me all the time, ‘let’s go to the playground’,” Boucher said. “Just have to follow the rules and the guidelines and hope for the best.”

But there is some hesitancy. Some restaurants have opted to stick to takeout and not allow indoor customers yet. Gordon said customers have also not flocked to dine-in right away.

“It’s not what we were expecting. On Saturdays, we would have lineups. There are no lineups,” she said. “Hoping to get the word out there more.”

Kosy media consultant and waitress Alexis David said being able to open indoor spaces is important for them, even with patio dining and takeout available.

“Indoor space is what people love about the Kosy. They love coming in, they love having that experience,” David said. She added it is important to support local businesses during this period.

“Everybody was hit pretty hard and we want to be able to stick around,” David said. “We need our local support back. We’re open, we’re here and we’re ready to serve.”

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