The open beaches were a welcome sight in Port Stanley for both the beachgoers and local businesses.
Monday marked the opening of all the beaches in Elgin County, after Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced two weeks ago all beaches and restaurants with outdoor patios would be able to as part of Phase 2 of the province’s reopening plan.
“I think it’s great for everyone, including the locals and all of the tourists,” said Lisa Fairweather, owner of Drift, a store specializing in locally-made wood furniture and decor.
“It will be great for the economy, and people have been cooped up, so I think everyone is very excited to get the beach.”
Drift is new to Port Stanley, and Fairweather only recently opened the doors for the first time on May 19, after the province allowed all businesses with street entrances to open.
She says business has been slowly picking up but adds there was a noticeable increase in customers on Monday, after the beach opened.
Brent Noels, the owner of the Pierside Pub in Port Stanley, says the beach opening up is a welcome change.
Since opening, Noels says they have been at capacity on their patio over the weekend, but he hopes the beach opening will bring more customers during the week.
“I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s smiling faces back outside again,” Noels said.
Local businesses aren’t the only ones excited to see the beaches open again. Beachgoers who spoke with Global News all seemed to support the change.
London resident Cathryn Collier says she has been waiting for the chance to hit the water.
“I think it’s great that it’s open, as long as people respect distancing and are courteous towards one another,” she said.
Courtney Powell and her family made the trek from almost two hours away in Grimsby, Ontario. Powell tells Global News she thinks the opening could have come a bit sooner, but they are just happy to be outside.
“We will wait out the rain and we will go swimming. We are just excited to not be inside.”
Sally Martyn, mayor of Central Elgin told Global News, told everyone out at the beach Monday morning to follow public health guidelines and keep their distance from one another.
“We opened on a Monday to have a soft opening to start with, but it will ramp up especially as the sunshine comes,” she said.
The beach will be patrolled to ensure everyone is maintaining proper physical distancing and Martyn the municipality is asking they are asking anyone with symptoms to stay home.
Bylaw officers, lifeguards and Central Elgin volunteer firefighters will all be taking turns ensuring people are following the rules.
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 informationView link »