Towns across cottage country are encouraging common sense amid the first stage of the Ontario government’s reopening plan.
In Huntsville, the town has decided it is using a phased and cautious approach to reopening some of these areas that will allow residents to enjoy fresh air, nature and physical activity.
In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, Huntsville Director of Operations and Protective Services, Stephen Hernen says they do not have the capacity to monitor all areas – and they’ll expect residents to use vigilance.
“We’re just trying to get some outdoor spaces available so people can stretch their legs, get out for a walk – that sort of thing. We’re not encouraging or endorsing any kind of sports activities, as they’re still restricted. When it comes to enforcement, we are relying on the public to self-enforce, and if we see it being abused, then we’re quite prepared to shut down those facilities again.”
This week, towns across Muskoka began their reopening phases with a strong focus on the public obeying health restrictions and abiding by posted signage.
Huntsville announced the reopening of its municipal beaches, while Muskoka Lakes will be opening its beaches on Saturday.
Meanwhile, beaches in Bracebridge will be opening next Friday, while Gravenhurst has no timeline set for when their beaches will reopen.
Hernen feels that by starting with this cautious approach, it will lessen the likelihood of harsher restrictions being implemented down the road.
“If we see abuse, we will shut the facilities down, but we don’t have the staff, nor do the police have the staff to run around and count everybody using a facility and reminding everyone constantly to stay two metres apart. We’ve got to expect people are smart enough to do that on their own.”
With the temperatures expected to hit the high-20s this weekend, Hernen says it may seem like an ideal time to get out and enjoy the weather.
He notes, however, they will not hesitate to put stricter measures back in place, if necessary.
“And it’s not what we want, the weather is getting nice, it’s an opportunity for people to be outside so, let’s get out and enjoy the space and respect other people’s space.”