Orléans is slowly beginning to reopen after being locked down for nearly two months to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The first stores that were allowed to reopen under strict public health guidelines were garden centres and hardware stores on May 15 and 16. Stores like Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Lowes and Home Hardware, which had been offering curbside pick-up service before then, were allowed to start letting people into their businesses but only in a way that social distancing could be maintained. This means that lineups are now the norm at many of these businesses. Especially long lineups were seen at both Lowes and Home Depot last week and during the weekend.
|Petrie Island was a popular spot on the weekend as local residents took advantage of the unseasonable warm weather and the implementation of Phase 1 of the province’s reopening plan to take a break from the COVID-19 pandemic. STAFF PHOTO
J.A. Laporte Flowers and Nursery was among the stores that were allowed to reopen, but for health reasons they decided to stick with their curbside pickup service. The owners were fearful they wouldn’t be able to maintain proper social distancing in their greenhouses and that the situation would get out of hand.
Even so, they’ve been swamped with curb-side pick-up orders as customers are eager to get outside and tend to their gardens and landscaping. Because of their limited staffing during the pandemic, they can only assemble so many orders in a day and demand has been off the charts.
Customers can begin placing their orders at midnight each night. Within a couple of hours, the spaces are usually filled up.
Laporte also has a contactless drive-thru service for people wanting to purchase hang-ing baskets and/or planters. The items must be prepurchased online and then the customer simply drives through and picks which one they want. The service is being offered until supplies last.
On May 19, the province implemented the remainder of it’s Phase 1 plan which allowed retail businesses with their own street-front entrances to admit customers inside as long as they could limit the number of people in the store to maintain a two-metre distance between shoppers and workers.
A number of outdoor, seasonal and recreational activities were also allowed to reopen including boat launches, off leash dog parks; tennis courts; outdoor multi-use fields and sports facilities; water sports, such as waterskiing, rowing and sailing; riding stables; and rod and gun clubs.
The Oziles’ Marina and Tackle Shop at Petrie Island reopened on May 16 and business has been brisk between the boat launch and people renting paddle boats and kayaks.
The island’s beaches and parks also re-opened last week, although swimming is still prohibited.
The island’s parking lots were full on both Saturday and Sunday as people took the advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to go for a walk, doing a little fishing or take a paddle on the water. Although it was busy, it was nowhere near the type of scenes that have taken place at some parks in Toronto. For the most part, the people visiting Petrie Island were able to maintain the physical distancing requirements. The same was true in parks across Orléans.
Phase 2 of the province’s reopening plan will see the opening of more workplaces and public spaces and allowing some larger public gatherings with continued protections in place for vulnerable popu-lations.
Just when the second phase will be implemented depends on how well Phase 1 goes and judging by the latest figures the prospect is not looking promising.
The number of new cases has been on the rise since Phase 1 began. On Sunday there were 460 new cases reported, 64 per cent of which were in the Greater Toronto Area. That is the highest increase since May 8 when there were 470 new cases reported.
The increase in cases has many observers warning that a second lockdown maybe needed. That won’t likely sit well with the businesses that were finally allowed to reopen or the people who can finally go outside.
It will also set back implementation of the planned second phase. Restaurant owners like Fernando Diniz at Caravela Restaurante on Innes Road has been holding out hope that restaurants like his own will be able to reopen with limited seating capacity sometime in June. He has even installed dividing walls between his tables to make sure that his diners are extra safe.
Restaurants in British Columbia were able to reopen on May 19 under a strict set of guidelines which include allowing groups of between two and six people, with each group seated at least six feet apart. Booths must have barriers installed between them, room occupancy will be determined by how many tables of six an operator can fit into its space while adhering to physical-distancing protocols, and each facility will have to create and post a COVID-19 safety plan approved by WorkSafe B.C.
Restaurant owners in Orléans are more than willing to operate under the same guidelines, the question is when?
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
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