More than seven weeks after Premier Doug Ford imposed a state of emergency forcing thousands of non-essential businesses to close their doors indefintely, the province is finally starting to ease up on the restrictions.
On Wednesday, Ford announced a phased in approach to reopening certain businesses over the coming days starting with garden centres and nurseries on Friday and hardware stores on Saturday. Non-essential retail businesses will be able to offer curbside service starting on Monday and below-grade, multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums can restart.
On Monday the provincial government allowed lawn care and landscaping companies to begin work again as well as automatic and self-serve car washes. Car dealerships can also allow customers into their showrooms by appointment only. Last, but by no means least, golf courses were advised to prepare for their upcoming season but must remain closed to the public.
J.A. Laporte Flowers and Nursery is the largest garden centre and nursery in Orléans. After experimenting with home deliveries for a week they decided to go to a curbside pickup service two weeks ago. The switch was made due to the large number of orders they were receiving on their website. They basically couldn't keep up.
Despite the go ahead from the provincial government to allow customers on to the property while maintaining social distancing, J.A. Laporte owner Nicholas Laporte says they plan to stick with the curbside pickup even though it requires a lot more work in gathering up the orders and putting them together for the client.
It is also a safety issue, says Laporte. Trying to maintain proper physical distancing while customers are milling about the plants and greenhouses would be all but impossible.
Larger stores like Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Lowes will also be able to alllow customers to enter under the same precautions that the grocery stores are currently taking. Namely, customers will be required to line up outside the store to limit the number of people inside.
While the province was releasing its list of business that could beging to open up, the City of Ottawa announced that residents could now stroll through its parks and green spaces although a prohibition on gatherings of more than five people and the use of recreational amenities like benches and play structures is still in place.
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