The Brant County Health Unit was on the list of 24 public health units given the go-ahead from the province to move into Phase Two on Friday. As of Saturday morning, residents will now be able to gather in groups up to ten people and enjoy more businesses and services that may reopen.
Brant County Mayor, David Bailey calls it ‘great news’ that the community can now take the next step to reopen. However, residents shouldn’t necessarily expect all eligible county services, facilities, and amenities to become available immediately.
Bailey says there are decisions and preparation needed by the county on which amenities they can open immediately or need to phase-in over weeks. “We have to decide as a county whether we want to open the water pads and pools,” says Bailey as an example. “Just because the premier says we can, doesn’t mean we’re going to choose to do all that. It’s a lot of work. It takes a lot of staff. We made the decision earlier that we weren’t going to call our students back, and a lot of those recreational pieces to what Premier Ford has said can reopen have to do with part-time people and students.”
Patios, hair salons, barbers, tour outfitters, along with many other businesses throughout the county can open their doors again as of Friday. However, Bailey notes, this can cause concern about possible community spread, as people from outside areas such as Toronto and Haldimand-Norfolk, still in Phase One, will visit.
“We can’t tell people they can’t visit,” Bailey explains.”In normal times, we ask people to come to our county. We say it’s the best place to live, play and work. People in Toronto, people in Hamilton, people all over the place, know about Brant County. They think about kayaking. They think about the river. We can’t stop them.” Bailey stresses the importance of moving forward but maintaining what has been learned and applied in terms of handwashing and physical distancing.
“We still have to carry on with our life protecting what we’ve worked so hard to protect.”Mayor David Bailey
Bailey also says the county will help restaurants expand or add patios the best they can while ensuring new spaces meet safety standards.
“They deserve us to give them a little bit of leniency,” Bailey says. “These are only my thoughts. Changes to by-laws and resolutions have to come through the council, but these are my feelings. My feelings are that we need to help them as much as we can to get up and running and making money as quickly as they can.”