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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex shifts into Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID reopening plan


by Garrett Fodor 

Following a wet and rainy week, residents and restaurant owners alike were able to rejoice while sharing a bite to eat away from the elements, as Ontario entered Stage 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday.

  As vaccination rates continue to increase and COVID cases continue to decline in the Province, progress continues. In Stage 3, residents are permitted to dine indoors once again, with no restrictions to table size. Outdoor gatherings are permitted up to 100 people, while indoor gatherings may hold 50 people and religious services and ceremonies are able to take place with social distancing in place among other changes with the change in stage.

  With the positive signs and more for residents to do, Jake Morassut, Manager of Parks and Facilities for the Town of Essex, believes the Town’s facilities have been prepped and ready for the reopening. He noted that he is excited to see people out and about in the town.

  “We basically come up with a game plan once we heard on July 9, and all of our facilities are going to be open as they were before,” Morassut explained. “We’re opening up our offsite locations, like town-hall, the arenas; places that were previously closed. And, of course, we’re continuing to see our youth sports teams utilizing our fields locally, that has not changed.”

  With temperatures rising and residents looking to get outside, Morassut noted that the Town has recognized the demand for their outdoor spaces and have increased parking, in addition to security and parking enforcement, on weekends at the Colchester Harbour and Beach. Morassut noted signage has been added and lines have been painted on grass parking lots at the Colchester Schoolhouse and other locations.

  Morassut reminds visitors to remain socially distanced when possible.  

  As some residents look to soak up the sun, Morassut explained that the Town is also preparing for the extreme weather events where there will be too much sun and heat. He said the Town will open some of its facilities as cooling centres in extreme weather events.

  Arenas in Essex and Harrow, the Colchester Harbour, and the McGregor Community Centre will all serve as the cooling centres. The motion was passed at the July 5 Essex Council meeting. The locations will be evaluated for attendance. Morassut noted that with the libraries being closed, there was a desire to make sure residents could cool down in extreme weather. He added there will be a similar set up in the winter for people to warm up, as well. 

  Morassut said the Municipality’s three splash pads will continue to be open from 9am until 9pm. Bathrooms and changing rooms have recently been added next to the pad in Essex Centre. Similar plans are in the works for Harrow.

  As the calendar approaches August, Morassut said the Town of Essex is quickly preparing its equipment and facilities to put the ice back in for hockey season at the two arenas. Under current guidelines, spectators are permitted at 50 percent capacity or 1000 people with distancing measures in place. In stage 3, residents are also able to walk the track in the Essex Centre Sports Complex, with it being open from 7am until 3pm each day. 

  Morassut added that the Town will continue to run day camps as well. The Essex Recreation Complex will also be open as well. For a complete list of facilities and activities open, to check the towns website www.essex.ca for all the latest updates. 

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