LONDON, ONT -- It’s been a long time coming, but many local businesses are finally able to celebrate their reopening as Ontario reaches the first stage in the plan to restart the economy.

At Bark and Purr pet grooming salon on Wharncliffe Road South in London tails are wagging once again. The business has been closed for eight weeks, and owner Samarr Knight doesn’t know how much longer they would have lasted.

“I had a three-month plan, after that I don’t know what I would have done,“ Knight told CTV News. “We’re super happy that we’re allowed to be back open in stage one. Actually, a lot of groomers lobbied hard to get into stage one and be included in that, so we’re super happy we’re open and now the dogs can be more comfortable.“

As of Tuesday, any business that opens to the street can resume operations with customers inside, as long as strict physical distancing guidelines are adhered to.

At Source for Sports on Wharncliffe Road South in London several precautions are in place, said Scott Kernaghan, who works as a manager.

“We ended up taking about 25 per cent of our racks away to create more space and laneways for people to walk through. Also with Lysol wipes, masks, all our staff are wearing them as you can see. And then when we are doing fits we are taking the product and quarantining it for four days before we can put it back on the shelf.“

Meanwhile downtown, Dundas Place is beginning to see signs of life again. The owner of Attic Books, Marvin Post, said he believes the downtown has a better chance of bouncing back than some shopping malls.

“I think the downtown is quite viable. A lot of the malls are going to be in fairly tough shape because the rents are fairly high and they recirculate the air within.”

The government has said that businesses should only reopen if they are ready. Each stage in the restart process is going to be monitored for two to three weeks to ensure it’s safe to proceed.

Retail openings build on weekend start

Over the long weekend recreational businesses such as golf courses and marinas began to open.

Saturday as the weather cooperated golfers could be seen hitting the fairways, and rough, of Thames Valley Golf Course, one of three locations owned by the City of London.

The City of London itself managed to open community gardens by the long weekend after they were declared essential heading into May.

Now libraries can open for delivery and pick-up, and the city will also open off-leash dog parks Tuesday and is working to open tennis and pickleball courts, however a date has not been set.

The city has yet to announce if they have a plan for reopening other services that may now be allowed.

So what exactly is allowed to reopen Tuesday? Here is a list of business and services that can start back up:

  • All construction and essential workplace limits lifted, including land surveyors
  • All retail stores with a street entrance can open with limited capacity
  • Office-based media operations
  • Non-emergency diagnostic imaging and surgeries in public hospitals, private hospitals and independent health facilities, clinics, and private practices to resume based on ability to meet specified pre-conditions
  • In-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions
  • Libraries for pick-up or delivery
  • Outdoor recreational sports centres for sports not played in teams, with limited access to facilities. This includes tennis courts, rod and gun clubs, cycling tracks, horse riding facilities and indoor golf driving ranges
  • Professional and amateur sport activity for individual/single competitors, including training and competition
  • Veterinary services by appointment and animal services such as grooming and training
  • Private households could now employ workers on or about the premises in activities primarily concerned with the operation of the household, including cleaners, cooks and nanny services
  • General maintenance, and repair services

So what are the rules for reopening?

While these businesses and services can start back up there are new guidelines issued by the province that will affect how those businesses operate.

For example retail stores are only allowed fitting rooms if they have a door, no curtains. The number of customers allowed in stores will also be limited.

A full list of guidelines and procedures can be found here.

Ontario has said that each stage will last roughly two to four weeks while officials monitor the effect of reopening and whether it is safe to move forward.

Stage two would see more workplaces open, and allow larger gathers while phase three will see larger public gatherings and opening all workplaces.

Prevously the government has hinted at allowing some form of gatherings in the coming days with Health Minister Christine Elliott saying people may soon be able to “get together for barbeques and other occasions.”

However, on Tuesday it was announced that all social gatherings will continue to be limited to five people until at least May 29.

- With files from CTV News Toronto