Port Stanley, other Elgin County, Ont., towns getting ready to open beaches

Port Stanley's beach will be open on June 22 as part of Ontario's Phase 2 reopening plan. June 11, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Port Stanley, Ont., is getting ready to open its beaches to the public by the end of June.

The Mayor of Central Elgin, Sally Martyn, said they and other municipalities in Elgin County will all be opening their beaches on June 22.

“We are working very closely with Southwestern Public Health to make sure we can open them safely and looking at all of the rules we will possibly put in place.”

The news comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s announcement this week that all beaches and restaurants with outdoor patios would be able to open as of this Friday, part of Phase 2 of the province’s reopening plan.

To keep people safe, Martyn said the beach will be patrolled to ensure everyone is maintaining proper physical distancing and adds they are asking anyone with symptoms to stay home.

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Signs will also be posted on the way to the beach, updating visitors about whether it’s open and there’s enough room. A Facebook page called Central Elgin Beach Rescue will be updated with the same information.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, Martyn said they have only had three cases of COVID-19 and none since the end of April.

“This will bring in tourists, but the biggest problem is a lot of the residents are worried about what else it will bring in.”

Despite some reservations, she said many of the local businesses are happy about the influx of tourists.

READ MORE: Middlesex-London Health Unit confirms first case of coronavirus at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

GT’s On The Beach in Port Stanley getting ready to open for Ontario’s Phase 2 reopening. June 11, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Carol Gates, owner of GT’s on the Beach restaurant, said they have already lost 30 per cent of their season.

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“It has been really rough,” Gates said. “We were closed up until a couple of weeks ago, and we opened for takeout only, but sales can’t possibly make up for a busy patio.”

The restaurant sits right on the beach, and the municipality has allowed them to extend their patio to accommodate the physical distancing requirements.

With the new guidelines, they will be able to fit 90 tables, which is only 10 less than they usually have.

Ally Carr, an employee at GT’s On The Beach in Port Stanley is helping the restaurant get ready to open for Phase 2 by moving tables on the patio to ensure physical distancing. June 11, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

For now, Gates said the will also only be doing table service and will not have beach volleyball or live music.

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