CK businesses invest in permanent patios as economy starts to reopen photo

As Ontario’s reopening of the economy starts to take shape over the coming weeks, the public will notice more permanent patios have either sprung up across Chatham-Kent or soon will.

Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said the municipality has received ten applications from local restaurants and bars to extend their patios onto municipal property this year, compared to 30 last year. Mayor Darrin Canniff said he knows of at least ten or 11 local restaurants that have decided to build permanent patios.

“It gives them more freedom. Some have invested a lot of money in various aspects of it. These will be with us long past COVID finishing up. So, I’m excited about that,” said the mayor.

Step 1 of Ontario’s reopening begins on Friday and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby reminds everybody that this is a gradual opening and urges caution. He noted not very much changes and there are still significant restrictions in place that must be followed.

“My big caution is for people not to think about this as an either or situation, that we’re either open or locked down. This is a slight relaxation in some of the rules. I think it makes sense because outdoors activities are prioritized and we know that outdoor exposures are much lower,” said Colby.

He said the targets set by the province of keeping daily cases below 1,000 for a period of time before reopening have been exceeded and it’s sensible to start reopening because COVID-19 case numbers have also dropped significantly across Ontario.

Ontario reported 590 new cases on Thursday. Chatham-Kent has 14 active cases. The number of daily cases across the province was well over 4,000 just two months ago when the stay-at-home order was issued.

Municipal officials are also reminding people to be patient and kind and continue to follow public health guidelines as non-essential businesses start to reopen.

Both provincial and municipal officials emphasize it remains critical that we all get vaccinated to put the pandemic behind us.