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KFL&A one of three Ontario public health regions to have COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Click to play video: 'Kingston part of the first group in Ontario to have the stay at home order lifted' Kingston part of the first group in Ontario to have the stay at home order lifted
WATCH: In-store shopping and eating at Kingston restaurants is set to resume Feb. 10. – Feb 8, 2021

Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington, along with Hastings Prince Edward, are two of the three public health regions to see Ontario’s stay-at-home order lifted.

The order will be lifted at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 10.

Read more: Ontario begins phased reopening Wednesday, majority of regions to remain in lockdown

The province’s regional move to lifting restrictions is being embraced by Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Cross.

“For our members, it is a great day for businesses to get back to our new normal.” said Cross

Cross says she’s been fielding calls from Chamber members even before Premier Doug Ford’s 1 p.m. announcement.

“What does this mean for me? What can I do? How can I open?  When can I open?” Cross told Global Kingston, describing some of those calls.

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Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Ontario health minister announces plan to gradually lift of stay-at-home orders' Coronavirus: Ontario health minister announces plan to gradually lift of stay-at-home orders
Coronavirus: Ontario health minister announces plan to gradually lift of stay-at-home orders – Feb 8, 2021

Cross says many of the Chamber’s more than 800 members have been able to adapt and offer online ordering and curbside pickup, but that’s not the case for all businesses.

“Some of the hardest-hit (businesses are) personal care. They can’t do curbside,” said Cross. “So this is a real win for them, that they get to open up again.”

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson is equally exuberant about businesses being allowed to open in two days.

“I think it’s a recognition of the hard work that happened here in our community to bring our case numbers down,” said Paterson.

Paterson says the return to green, the best of the province’s COVID-19 colour rating system, is positive, but staying there requires the community to continue following public health guidelines.

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“I think the big issue right now is travel.” Paterson said. “Now is not the time for non-essential travel to and from Kingston. Certainly right now we’re in that fragile state.”

Read more: London, Middlesex County stay-at-home order tentatively set to end Feb. 16

Paterson says while the COVID-19 risk is low, caution needs to be exercised.

“Until we can get everybody vaccinated we still have to be careful follow public health guidance and restrictions,” he said.

To help ease the strain on local businesses, Kingston city council included a 9.1-per cent commercial tax reduction in its 2021 budget.

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