Deegan Hanley, Kaylee Hawthorne, (front, left to right) Damien Hanley and Zach Rae (rear, left to right) enjoyed Port Stanley’s Little Beach today, and hope the barricades will be gone tomorrow, when they plan to return.
Queen’s Park has eased its Stay-at-Home Order for the Victoria Day Weekend and Elgin County’s popular beaches are expected to open.
The Province announced a three-step reopening strategy today, setting the stage for life after June 2, 2021, when the province’s Stay-at-Home Order ends. Premier Doug Ford also confirmed plans to reopen outdoor recreational amenities – with restrictions – starting Saturday.
“Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households,” according to the Premier’s announcement. “All other public health and workplace safety measures under the province-wide emergency brake will remain in effect.”
Local municipalities – which today hauled cement barricades to block beach parking lots – are expected to remove them on Friday.
“People were just starting to get to the point where they accepted the beaches would be closed for the long weekend,” said Elgin County Warden Tom Marks, “but it’s a go. We’re open. We’re still hoping people will do all the things they need to do to stay safe, like social distancing.”
Marks said senior municipal officials met late today to review the Premier’s statement. A statement on the Central Elgin website stated, in part: “ … the Municipality will open recreational amenities including, soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, skate parks, parking lots, washrooms, and the boat launch.”
Port Stanley marina operators are elated.
“We’re happy to welcome our boaters for the 2021 season,” said Fiona Nisbet, proprietor at Kettle Creek Marina. “It was getting kind of lonely around here.
“We have a sign-in sheet and a COVID-19-rules agreement for everyone to sign,” added Nisbet. “We’ve reminded people to make sure to bring a mask, but we’re going to have hand wipes, masks, and sanitizer in baskets set out around the marina as well.”
After a gorgeous day in Port Stanley, Little Beach and Main Beach were still relatively busy around the dinner hour today.
“We were here for a couple hours,” said Deegan Hanley, 17, who visited Little Beach with a couple pals. “It was nice to get out.” He was happy to hear about the Premier easing restrictions for the long weekend and hopes to return to the beach on Friday.
On Wednesday, Carol Gates, proprietor at GTs On the Beach, opted to close for the weekend, figuring that if the beach parking lots were locked down, her business would suffer. Gates reconsidered today and will be open for takeout.