With cases of COVID-19 rising across the region and nicer weather around the corner, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is again getting ready to accommodate tourists.
The town said it is “proactively preparing” for an anticipated increase in visitors by posting safety signs, reopening public washrooms in Old Town and reinstating staff for public education and cleaning.
“We are entering our second spring and summer season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” chief administrator Marnie Cluckie told The Lake Report in a statement.
As of Wednesday, public health statistics showed NOTL had 19 active COVID cases and the region had 545. In addition, across Niagara 301 variant cases had been reported.
With the weather warming, “we’re seeing an increase in the number of people coming to town and we want to ensure we’re providing the services they need during their stay,” Cluckie said.
“This past year has shown us that the town is incredibly agile and capable of adapting and responding quickly to changes rolled out by the province, and so we enter this second season with more confidence. We feel cautiously prepared.”
The municipality has also hired and trained more staff to assist with public education about provincial COVID restrictions, she said.
“Staff has prepared documents to assist local food and drink establishments adapt to changing regulations, and our bylaw officers have been readily available to support and educate businesses on what is required of them in order to promote and protect the health and safety of their patrons and employees,” she said.
The town said physical distance markers will be used and signs will be posted around the downtown core, reminding people to wear a mask and follow COVID-19 safety practices, like regular hand washing, sanitizing, maintaining a distance of two-metres and not touching their face.
Staff has put yellow grip tape markers two metres apart outside the public washrooms to assist with physical distancing efforts and some stalls have been closed to further assist with distancing efforts, a town spokesperson said.
Town employees also began public education about provincial restrictions on Saturday, as well as periodically sanitizing high-touch surfaces like benches and parking machines. These precautionary efforts will continue on weekends throughout the remainder of the spring and summer.
“The arrival of spring always attracts crowds to our beautiful town,” said Lord Mayor Betty Disero.
“While we love to see visitors experiencing our unique culture and heritage, our stunning parks and gardens, and our wonderful local businesses, we must remember that COVID-19 still poses a significant risk for our community, and safety comes first.”
The public washrooms at Queen’s Royal Park and Simcoe Park were opened Saturday and are to remain open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the spring and summer. The Market Street washroom, which does not close during the winter season, remains open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Public washrooms at Memorial Park and the Information Centre at Fort George remain closed but will open later in the season.