By Chad Ingram
Semblances of pre-COVID-19 life are beginning to appear here and there as the provincial government allows a regional, phased re-opening of some businesses throughout Ontario.
And while I don't mean to downplay the continuing danger posed by the coronavirus, or the risk of a second wave, those bits of normalcy are a welcome sight.
Last week in regions outside the province's urban areas, Haliburton County among them, a number of businesses were permitted to reopen, or expand their operations. County residents can now get a haircut. And on the patios of downtown Minden? People. Real, live human beings. A once completely typical sight that now seems a bit surreal.
It's a beautiful day and just now I returned from eating my lunch in a park. There was a couple sitting on a bench in the shade, children playing in the water, and a man walking his dog. It felt almost normal. It was nice.
Things are of course not normal, and we're still a long way from being through this pandemic. Patios may be open, but tables are spaced farther apart, servers and some patrons are wearing face masks. So is your barber. Some of these things may end up becoming part of whatever the new, post-COVID-19 normal is. Many of us are now long-used to some form of Plexiglas shield being part of almost any business.
This Friday, a number of other, more urban areas of the province will also be permitted to enter Stage 2, including Hamilton, Durham Region, York Region and Niagara. In fact, after this week, only Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, which includes Brampton and Mississauga, and the metropolis of Toronto will remain in Stage 1. There are some who believe the re-openings are too much, too quickly, and that at this rate, a second wave of the virus sweeping across Ontario is basically inevitable.
Like so many aspects of this crisis, only time will tell. Certainly, in terms of the county, it seems reasonable to say that we've done a good job of abiding by public health guidelines and keeping numbers down. In the three months since the crisis hit the province, the county has logged just eight confirmed cases of COVID-19, all of them now considered resolved.
That of course doesn't mean we can let our guard down. As more businesses reopen, it means that more and more of us are going to be venturing out into the world more often. It's still important that we stay away from one another, wash our hands maniacally, and abide whatever other physical distancing protocols may be in place at the places we visit.
Summer will officially arrive in a few days, and while it certainly won't be a typical summer in the county, it will be summer just the same. Enjoy it. Safely. Take care of each other.