“There is no way I can properly express how I am feeling about reopening. I’m excited, happy, overwhelmed, scared, nervous and exhausted. I am a mixed bag of emotions. I am hopeful that we can move forward from the last 15 months. Covid closures and lockdowns have been very difficult. A terrifying last lockdown. I am grateful that I have been able to survive all the lockdowns.” – Sarah Lynne Maloney of Malones Pint House
As Barrie and the rest of the province move into Step One of the three-step reopening plan on Friday, noticeable local results will be the removal of the fences surrounding Meridian Place and lockdown-weary residents enjoying patios and shopping across the city.
Downtown Barrie, between Bayfield and Mulcaster streets, will be a pedestrian-only zone starting Saturday, as Open Air Dunlop kicks off, one week earlier than planned. Every Saturday during the summer, Dunlop Street will be closed to traffic from 5 a.m. to midnight.
The reopening, if only a partial one, is welcome news to small businesses. Sarah Lynne Maloney, proprietor of Malones Pint House on Bradford Street, likely spoke for many in the hospitality sector who have been anticipating a return to some sense of normalcy.
“There is no way I can properly express how I am feeling about reopening. I’m excited, happy, overwhelmed, scared, nervous and exhausted. I am a mixed bag of emotions. I am hopeful that we can move forward from the last 15 months. COVID closures and lockdowns have been very difficult. A terrifying last lockdown. I am grateful that I have been able to survive all the lockdowns,” she said.
“However the road we will travel will be all uphill. Our phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the announcement of reopening. Our days are filling up fast with reservations and that makes my heart full. I had one customer actually thank me for surviving and reopening. I look forward to hosting live music again. We need that. So, I guess the best description on how I am feeling is determined. Malones will provide a safe and relaxing environment. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Meridian Place has been fenced off since April 29 when Mayor Jeff Lehman issued an emergency order in response to ongoing gatherings that occurred contrary to the provincial legislation and regulations.
As per Step One of Ontario’s reopening directions, outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people, and four people per table on patios. Non-essential retail can open at 15 percent capacity. Initial steps are focused on low-risk outdoor activities with small groups of people. It will also permit more limited indoor settings to be open, all with restrictions in place.
City council is also meeting (Thursday) at 7 p.m. to discuss extending patio hours until indoor dining is allowed. Watch it here.
The Province has tied reopening to vaccination rates, with 60 percent of adults needing at least one dose to trigger Step One of the reopening plan. As of June 6, 72 percent of adults had that first shot. The province recorded 590 news cases today; on Wednesday, 411 new cases were recorded, the lowest since February. There are 515 people in hospitals being treated for COVID-19, a drop of 55 from the day before. Of those 450 are being treated in intensive care units (ICUs), a drop of 16.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reporting 25 new cases since its last update; the unit updates daily, Monday through Friday. Currently, 70 percent of adults 18 years and older living in Simcoe Muskoka have had at least one dose of vaccine, and 36 percent of youth 12 to 17 years of age have had their first shot.