PENHOLD – After nearly two months of being shut inside their homes, Penholders will soon be able to live with almost complete normalcy outside.
“We are excited. We are happy to be able to open everything back up for our residents," said Penhold mayor Mike Yargeau, who added with relief that as far as the town knows, there have not been any locally recorded cases of COVID-19. “There are still rules to follow, so we are going to make sure we are doing our part and we expect our residents to do the same. We are excited. This is what we wanted."
On June 9, the province announced Stage 2 of the COVID-19 relaunch allowing many more facilities to reopen on June 12. However, there will still be restrictions as safety remains the top priority.
A maximum 50 people will be allowed for indoor social gatherings, including wedding and funeral receptions and birthday parties. There will be a cap of 100 people for outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies. There is no cap for worship gatherings, restaurants, cafes, lounges, bars, casinos and bingo halls. Public health measures and physical distancing guidelines are still in place.
Yargeau said as soon as the announcement came on June 9 the town had a managers’ meeting and a plan was started to reopen town facilities.
“By (June 12) we are not going to see anything yet. There is just too much to do but we will be opening up everything basically,” said Yargeau, who added the announcement should make many groups happy as sports fields will be ready for action.
“Sports leagues can now make their plans. I know our soccer league had cancelled their season but they might change their minds. Baseball leagues can get going, and then there is (the) splash park,” said Yargeau.
“Everything will be open. We just need a bit of time to get everything back.”
As for the community hub – the Penhold Regional Multiplex, Yargeau said the town is tentatively shooting for a June 22 reopening. He said, however, the multiplex’s fitness centre could be open sooner, depending how quickly the town can get up to speed with the new protocols. The multiplex gymnasium and Memorial Hall is also slated to reopen on June 22. The multiplex arena is scheduled to reopen on July 3.
As for town council, which has had to rely on Zoom technology to be transparent for the community, a final call has not yet been made for meetings to be fully open to the public, said Yargeau. “They will be open to a limited number for the public,” he said. “We are not sure yet if we are going to continue with the Zoom or with the online streaming.”
However, the Penhold & District Library in the multiplex can be reopened on June 12 as it is “separately run," said Yargeau. “They are planning to open but I don’t know when,” he said.
Yargeau said it will take about three weeks to get the Penhold Splash Park ready for use as it has to be “unwinterized” for it to be ready. The tentative reopening date for that facility is July 3.
The Penhold RV Park was already open but at 50 per cent capacity. The facility will now be allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity.
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