As Chatham-Kent enters the Red-Control level of the province’s COVID-19 Reopening Framework, municipal services, arenas, and pools are starting to reopen their doors to the following public lockdown.
According to Mayor Darrin Canniff, reopening can happen safely, but residents need to be cautious.
“If we continue doing what we’re doing and the numbers are coming down, we can open up our economy,” said Canniff.
Don Shropshire, Chief Administrative Officer for Chatham-Kent, said the municipality has seen a large range regarding how businesses have responded to the Red Zone reopening. As it stands, the Red Zone allows gyms and restaurants to host only 10 clients at a time.
“We’ve had people that said they are going to be even more cautious and slowly reopen,” said Shropshire. “We’ve had others that have really welcomed the opportunities to get into the store. That’s particularly true for some of the smaller retailers who expressed concern the big box stores got to remain open, and they were selling similar products.”
The municipality, however, has begun the process of reopening some of its services.
Residents can visit city hall for regular services, such as making tax and utility payments or paying for dog tag licence renewals. The Chatham Civic Centre also reopened last week.
All other municipal service centres will reopen for regular business hours as of Feb. 21; however, municipal information desks in Bothwell, Thamesville and Wheatley will continue to be closed until further notice.
Services, including the commissioning of documents and marriage licences, will continue to be available by appointment only.
The provincial offences court is also open. Those who have a scheduled court date must call the office to obtain remote call-in information.
At Child Care and Early Years, mandated virtual services, including online early years programs, social media videos, and wellness calls to stay connected to families, continue to be offered online.
While no new ice bookings will be taken, all municipal arenas have reopened to resume existing ice contracts on Feb. 20. Tiny Tot and Adult Skate ice programs will also be available.
All 11 public library branches will continue to provide curbside service while Chatham-Kent is at the red level.
The Thames Art Gallery will open on Feb. 26 with the Landscape in Flux exhibit. If Chatham-Kent remains in the red category, this exhibit will be virtual.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News