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COVID-19: Downtown Kingston patios, streets bustling on day 1 of Ontario’s reopening plan

Click to play video: 'Downtown Kingston busy on the first day of Ontario’s stage-1 reopening' Downtown Kingston busy on the first day of Ontario’s stage-1 reopening
WATCH: A busy downtown Kingston on the first day of Ontario's stage-1 reopening plan – Jun 11, 2021

Restaurants and retailers in Kingston can reopen for the first time in two months as Ontario moved into phase one of its COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday.

Residents who lined up outside stores said that they’re outside enjoying the sun.

“To be back after like six months and to see — even though they’re from the same household — to see my friends and be outside and completely different, completely new,” said Alan Paul.

Read more: Ontario restaurants ‘scrambling’ to find new staff as some choose not to return

“It’s really nice — it’s fantastic. I hope this continues; that’s all I can say,” said Chuck Hearns, another local who shared that this is the first time in months he and his friends got together.

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“It’s absolutely fantastic for me. I’ve worked through most of the shutdown. I mean, I’ve been going to work every day, but to get together with these guys has been fantastic.”

“We’re a lot happier now — it was a little stressful for a while there,” said Bruce Clark, owner and operator of the Toucan Pub.

“People are dying to get out. There’s a lot of thirsty people out there and a lot of hungry people out there and they want to go somewhere else other then their own kitchen and enjoy life again.”

For some, enjoying the first day of reopening meant standing in line.

“We haven’t been able to be able to buy clothes for a super long time in store, I guess, so we’re here today just shopping around,” said Brianna Dondero, a Kingston resident on the bustling streets of the downtown core.

“I’m looking at maybe a bathing suit or like tank top or shorts or something — stuff for the summer,” added another young woman waiting in line outside of Urban Outfitters.

Read more: COVID-19: Ontario residents celebrate reopening with patio visits, shopping trips

The staff of the downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) took advantage of the new, less restrictive rules for their morning meeting.

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“The restaurants and the retailers are not fully staffed yet and some of them are probably going to be a little rusty. So if you can just remember to practice patience and kindness, I think that will go a long way,” said Marijo Cuerrier the executive director of Kingston’s BIA.

The province says more restrictions are expected to ease in three weeks if COVID-19 case counts continue to drop.

Click to play video: 'Outdoor gatherings, group fitness, permitted in Step 1 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan' Outdoor gatherings, group fitness, permitted in Step 1 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan
Outdoor gatherings, group fitness, permitted in Step 1 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan – Jun 11, 2021

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