Opening Up Ontario: Phase 2

Aurora Town Hall courtesy Town of Aurora

Aurora resident Cathy Myers manages the Filly & Co pub on Yonge Street. She, like many others, has been affected by COVID-19. “We were forced to close our doors March 16 2020. The day before our busiest day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day. We had to return inventory, put our entire staff on EI, and discuss future expense payments with our landlord, as well as all other accounts we pay on a regular basis. COVID has affected our business, our staff’s income, as well as our own”

That changed when the provincial government announced they were starting the process of reopening the province of Ontario on June 12th.

Filly & Co courtesy Filly & Co
Filly & Co courtesy Filly & Co

The Filly & Co pub had to quickly adapt to the changes. Its patio layout was changed to accommodate the required six-foot gap, and they wipe down every surface with hospital grade sanitizer. They have been trained to follow the new protocols and wear face masks when at work. “Our staff have adjusted quite well with all of the new protocols. Although we are all working much harder to earn less, we continue to do it everyday with a great smile on our faces”

Aurora mayor Tom Mrakas courtesy York Region News
Aurora mayor Tom Mrakas courtesy York Region News

Aurora’s Mayor Tom Mrakas says the town of 55-thousand north of Toronto has done a great job so far and people might be ready for the changes.

“There will be some subtle changes, we can expect more foot traffic and less vehicle traffic, but this will bolster the economy, people will start to support more local businesses”.

The rate of new cases in Ontario has been steadily decreasing over the last two weeks.

With an announcement June 9th by the Ford government, allowing Windsor Essex to open up as well, the entire province has now moved to phase two.

Social gathering limits have now been increased to ten people, places of worship will allow 30% capacity, hair and beauty salons will open as long as patrons wear face masks, outdoor patios in restaurants, and beaches and parks will open with limited capacity.

That’s something Aurora residents like Paul Heggie worry about.

“I think too many people think this means it’s almost over, when really it’s the government saying ‘we’re going to trust you to be careful, wear masks when you should, physically distance, and don’t be an f’ing idiot’. Problem is, I’m seeing a lot of f’ing idiots out there”.

Another resident says “still too soon, too much complacency, people are too relaxed”.

Lorretta Bernard, a public health official, says people still have to be careful.

“I hope the public takes things seriously and realizes that this virus is still out there. Physical distancing, hand washing and being vigilant are still critical. The government of Ontario will be paying close attention to how things go. The next few weeks will be telling. We are anticipating some clusters in daycare settings and more”

So far Canada has 108,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a third of them in Ontario.

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