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Busy and back to normal: a mid-summer update on Grand Bend, Ont., beach, businesses

This fun sign will greet you when you arrive in Grand Bend from London. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

The sun is shining, the beach is buzzing and businesses are back to normal in Grand Bend, Ont.

Despite uncertainties with COVID-19, the mayor of Lambton Shores, which covers Grand Bend, tells 980 CFPL it’s been a good season so far.

“Our beaches have been very busy,” said Mayor Bill Weber. “The lake level has receded a little bit. We do have more beach space, but the beach fills up quickly on a nice, warm day.”

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In order to ensure beachgoers are within safe distance from one another, Weber says new rules were introduced.

“For example, there’s no sports allowed on the beach. You can’t throw a football around. That just gets into other people’s spaces.”

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The mayor also says most of the public has adhered to COVID-19 protocols while visiting the beach.

“People, for the most part, are being respectful of other people’s distances, they’re complying with COVID rules and they’re with their immediate households as much as we can tell,” he said. “Some do not, and it’s unfortunate.”

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Nathaniel Reboh, the manager of Rebo’s Beach Factory in Grand Bend says he’s also noticed that customers have gotten used to and are following COVID-19 protocols.

“Of course, sometimes (someone) will walk in (without) a mask. They’ll go ‘oh!’ and they go back to grab it,” he chuckled. “Or they drop it and stress over it. But overall, I would say no one is going against it.”

Reboh says the business, which primarily sells beachwear and accessories, has been surprisingly busier this year than pre-pandemic years.

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“People in Toronto, down in the cities and around the area are able to (come) and refresh after being stuck at home,” he said.

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For Natalie Mirazic, the owner of Static Boutique in Grand Bend, business is not booming more than usual this summer, but it is similar to what it was prior to the pandemic.

“It’s been nice to go back to normal,” she said. “The (support) from customers was beyond our expectation, so that was a really welcoming surprise.”

But reopening during a pandemic comes with its challenges.

“We have staff who came back, (but) we also had a few staff who weren’t comfortable (returning),” Mirazic explained.

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This has been particularly difficult because while staff levels have decreased, duties have increased.

The owner says new duties include steaming each piece of clothing after someone tries it on, and wiping down machines, counters and changerooms more frequently.

“It’s been a lot more work and it takes a lot of time to do that, but we’re doing our part to try and keep everyone safe,” she said.

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For Reboh, he says his staff were enthusiastic to return to work.

“They like moving, talking to people and they’re very happy to be back.”

He’s predicting the rest of the summer to be just as busy as it currently is, and perhaps a busy early autumn as well.

“(September) and beginning of October might be busier because (students) doing online learning might take a day off and come to the beach.”

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Mayor Weber and Mirazic are also feeling positive about the rest of the summer, and believes it will be a busy one.

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“(People) have the desire to get out and enjoy the summer,” said Weber, “so I think it’s going to be a busy summer for all of our businesses.”

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