Extension granted to Simcoe’s Kent Street dining zone

Jay Parsons and Geanna Bean (front) stopped by the Chamber Community Picnic at Lynnwood Eats on Sept. 10 and met with Linda Branderhorst, general manager of the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce. Future dates of picnics will be posted to the chamber social media profiles. Ashley Taylor/Postmedia Network

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Restaurants and other establishments in downtown Simcoe like the exterior dining spots Norfolk County established this summer to accommodate their hungry customers.

Plans were to wind down the socially-distanced tables and chairs on Kent Street South and at the Lynnwood Arts Centre along Argyle Street after the Labour Day weekend. However, these amenities will remain in place till after the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend next month. The final day at this point is Oct. 12.

Norfolk council granted an extension of the Kent Street closure at the end of a special council meeting on Sept. 8. No resolution was required for the Lynnwood property because Norfolk County owns it and there is no conflicting use.

“Both dining areas have gone really well,” says Simcoe Coun. Ryan Taylor. “The Simcoe BIA would like to see them extended to the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.”

There was great emphasis in Ontario and elsewhere this summer on exterior dining due the threat the COVID-19 coronavirus poses in confined interior settings.

Intimate bars and restaurants have been identified as transmission hot spots. Conversely, health authorities have concluded that patio dining and the like is safe provided everyone maintains a proper separation and appropriate sanitation procedures are in place.

“There have been no issues with this closure to date,” Marie Steiner, a corporate support generalist with the county, said in a note to council about the Kent Street location. “Physical and social distancing measures will continue to be in place and volunteers will be on site to sanitize and ensure protocols are followed.”

Shortly after the pandemic was declared in March, restaurants and other eateries in Ontario complained they weren’t serving enough customers with delivery, take-out and curb-side pickup to justify staying in business.

Most municipalities responded with lightning speed to create appropriate spaces on public property where people could socially distance while continuing to patronize their favourite establishments.