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Kingsville, Leamington enter phase-two of COVID-19 reopening


Kingsville Mayor, Nelson Santos

by Sylene Argent

On Monday, the Provincial Government announced the municipalities of Kingsville and Leamington would be allowed to enter phase-two of the COVID-19 reopening plan as of the following day.

  “Better late than never, we’ll put it that way,” MP Chris Lewis said in reaction to hearing the news. “At least we can get our small businesses opened up and at least start to develop some type of the economy back and get things moving.”

  Lewis said he knows the temporary closure of small businesses during the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for many. Hopefully, the Provincial and Federal governments, he said, can supply more resources to help them get on their feet a lot quicker.

  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Lewis said, did say at the onslaught of the pandemic, that no individual or business would be left behind. “Well, for the last two-and-a-half weeks, I know two municipalities that were both left behind.”

  He attended a rally in Kingsville last week, and had full intention on speaking about their needs, while in the House of Commons this week. With the phase two news, he said his personal focus will be on those businesses in Kingsville and Leamington.  

  Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said that rally was to bring to light the impact Leamington and Kingsville faced being left behind while everyone else was able to move forward.

  The announcement of being able to move into phase two, Santos said, is welcome. Being left in phase one meant businesses couldn’t open doors, while still having to pay bills without cashflow. Being left behind in phase one the additional time, he added, was a real threat as businesses down the road were able to open.

  “It’s a breath of fresh air, and certainly support that was needed for our businesses to be able to open,” Santos said. “Without them, there is a significant risk [in the] long-term for local jobs.”

  He said they will continue to work at getting to the next phase.

  Since the beginning of the pandemic, Santos is aware of six Kingsville businesses that have closed, from varying sectors. He has heard those in Kingsville are ready to support their local businesses.

  Around a month ago, Kingsville started discussions with its BIA and downtown businesses on opening up the streets for businesses. Now that it is welcome to enter phase two, Santos said hopefully that pilot could be started this Friday. The plan is, for different periods of time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, to close Main Street and Part of Division Street.

  With this, restaurants will be able to extend patios into the street, and retail establishments will be able to open up floor space onto the sidewalk and street as well.

  Santos said it is still all hands-on deck in terms of responding to the concerns with the positive tests continuing to come out of the greenhouse sector. “We have all the players in place to help respond to testing and the needs that come out of the testing.”

  Plans are being made, he added, across Leamington and Windsor with hotels to get spaces for those needing to self-isolate, but need the space to do so.

  Santos said he said he sees a lot of opportunities coming ahead for businesses in Kingsville. This could include relief packages from the municipality.  

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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