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‘Absolutely relieved’: Durham businesses prepare to reopen Friday

Click to play video: 'Durham businesses excited to reopen' Durham businesses excited to reopen
WATCH: Businesses in Durham now have the green light to get things up and running for Friday, and many are frantically trying to prepare. – Jun 8, 2021

Following the province’s COVID-19 reopening announcement, businesses in Durham now have the green light to get things up and running Friday.

Julian Holman, the owner of thrift shop Plato’s Closet in Pickering and Oshawa, has been frantically preparing for the foot traffic he’s expecting in just a few days.

While most non-essential retailers are preparing to reopen, Holman says Friday will be the Pickering location’s grand opening in a sense.

“We opened Dec. 22nd, just for three days to get the Christmas rush in, knowing full well we were going into lockdown the 26th,” Holman said.

“We had the lockdown, we opened up again for a very short time and then we went into this other lockdown.”

Read more: Ontario set to enter provincewide COVID-19 reopening plan on June 11

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Holman says the thrift store has fought tooth-and-nail to stay afloat through curbside pickup and sales over social media.

Now, like other non-essential retailers, the shop will be able to operate at 15 per cent capacity as part of Step 1 of the province’s reopening plan.

“(I’m) absolutely relieved,” said Holman.

“It’s been quite a year as all retailers know it’s been a bit of a struggle. There’s been a few sleepless nights for sure.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Restaurants, retail prepare for reopening in Ontario' COVID-19: Restaurants, retail prepare for reopening in Ontario
COVID-19: Restaurants, retail prepare for reopening in Ontario – Jun 7, 2021

Although the weather appeared to be dim Tuesday, Friday’s forecast has sunny skies in store. The nice weather paired with the reopening has Port Restaurant in Pickering expecting lines to be out the door.

Staff at the bayside restaurant say they were flooded with phone calls and emails following the news they could reopen.

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Read more: Doug Ford says Ontario could enter COVID-19 reopening plan before June 14, but only if doctors sign off

“There’s a lot going on outside and behind the scenes, just with preparation, with food, with beverages, with cocktails,” said general manager Julian Gneo.

The establishment will only be allowing walk-ins for its patio this weekend. Four people will be allowed per table with exceptions for larger households, according to provincial rules.

Click to play video: 'Ontario beginning to ease COVID-19 restrictions Friday' Ontario beginning to ease COVID-19 restrictions Friday
Ontario beginning to ease COVID-19 restrictions Friday – Jun 7, 2021

The revised restrictions also give the green light to outdoor youth day camps as well as allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. Wedding, funeral and other religious ceremonies can go ahead with limited capacity depending on whether they are outdoors or indoors.

“It brings hope back into the economy that people will be ready and we’re doing it in such a way that people can get ready for it,” regional chair John Henry told Global News.

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Read more: What you can do and when under Ontario’s new 3-phase COVID-19 reopening plan

Whether it’s in-store or down by the bay, employees like Gneo say they’ve never been so excited to get back to work.

“It’s so empowering knowing that after so many years of being an anchor in the community, people are so excited to come back and enjoy themselves by the water with us.”

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