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Kawartha Lakes taking careful approach to Phase 2 reopening

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The City of Kawartha Lakes is handling Stage 2, of the provincial community reopening, cautiously. During a telephone press conference on Wednesday, June 10th, Mayor Andy Letham stressed the importance of businesses only opening their doors to the public when they feel they are ready to do so. “I think it’s important that things open up when they are comfortable to open up. It doesn’t mean everything has to be full speed on Friday, [June 12th] morning at 12:01 a.m. So, I think it’s important, from a municipal point of view and a business point of view that these businesses open when they are comfortable opening, and if they are comfortable on Friday, then they should,” Mayor Letham explained. The Mayor added, the City is going to follow that advice with their services. “From a municipal point of view, we’re going to do the same thing. We’ve got the go ahead on a lot of services we can now start feeding back into our process. We’re going to put a schedule together. Obviously, we’ll be calling staff back accordingly, over the rest of the month, as we put plans in place to open up some of these services that have been closed for quite a while. But we’re in the same boat. We’re not going to open them up until we are ready to do so, until we have the proper protocols in place to protect visitors, residents and our staff as we move forward,” Mayor Letham said. In a Youtube video posted on the same day, Mayor Letham told residents, Phase 2 does not mean the pandemic is over. “What this means for our municipality is that we have been given the green light to allow the re-opening of most businesses and services. However, I want to stress, this does not mean that, effective June 12th at 12:01 a.m., the City is back to business as usual. In fact, I suspect that many things will not return back to the normal we were used to, prior to the pandemic. And that’s okay. Reality is going to look different in the next few months, but it’s important to remember that everything being done is for the safety and well-being of us all,” the Mayor said. “There are strict guidelines in place, from both a provincial and local level, that we need to ensure are being followed as doors begin to open. I know that from a municipal perspective, Council and Senior Management have been working hard over the past few months to develop work plans to slowly re-introduce staff into our buildings. For example, we’ve begun modifying building layouts to maintain physical distancing in offices, for both staff and residents, as we start to welcome everyone back. I know many families are missing activities, such as access to our playgrounds and splash pads, but Stage 2 only allows for a maximum gathering of 10 people. It’s limitations, such as this [are what] make re-opening a challenge, not only for the municipality but for businesses and restaurants as well.” Mayor Letham, in the video, also stressed the importance of keeping the community’s safety in mind. “We are doing our best, as a municipality, to provide our residents and visitors with the experiences they love most about Kawartha Lakes, but everyone needs to keep safety a priority. We can only do so much, in terms of providing barriers and increased cleaning measures, but the onus is on everyone to do their part.”

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