As Peterborough enters stage two of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday (June 12), the City of Peterborough is closing a portion of George Street in downtown Peterborough to vehicles this weekend, so that people can visit downtown businesses while maintaining physical distancing.
The city announced on Thursday night (June 11) that George Street will be closed between McDonnel Street to King Street from 3 p.m. on Friday, June 12th until the evening of Sunday, June 14th.
Side streets and intersections remain open during the George Street closure, to assist with emergency access as well as deliveries and pickups for businesses.
While many downtown businesses were allowed to reopen during stage one of the province’s reopening, this is the first weekend that restaurants, cafes, and bars are allowed to reopen their patios.
The street is being closed only to provide space for pedestrians to stay a safe distance away from each other, not for street activities or structures. Smoking is not allowed on closed roads according to the city’s by-law.
As for restaurants, cafes, and bar patios, only patios previously approved by the city for downtown sidewalks can open. The city has set up a new streamlined application process for businesses looking to add new patios or expand previously approved patios.
Businesses operating patios are expected to follow the provincial government’s guidelines on safe reopening and public health guidelines, including:
- Restricting the number of patrons on the patio to a maximum of 50% of the previously approved capacity.
- Ensure physical distancing of at least 2 metres between patrons from different households.
- Using reservations – no lineups as space is limited and lineups onto the sidewalk will make it difficult for physical distancing.
- Limiting the number of patrons allowed in the outdoor space at one time.
- Ensuring enough space between tables, including to allow for movement.
- Access to indoor facilities is limited to patio/outdoor dining area access, food pickup, payment, washrooms or other health and safety purposes.
- Not using overhead structures such as tents and canopies that may impede with pedestrians and physical distancing (using umbrellas is encouraged to provide shade).
- Ensuring tables and chairs are at least one metre from the outer limit of the patio, in order to facilitate physical distancing.
Smoking and vaping are prohibited on all patios and within nine metres of the patio.
The city says the temporary weekend closure of George Street is an interim measure while it works to implement broader changes, such as changing vehicle lanes and on-street parking, to increase sidewalks space to assist with physical distancing. The broader changes are expected to be implemented within the next couple of weeks, as the city acquires and installs barriers between vehicle lanes and the new pedestrian spaces.
Besides providing more pedestrian space, the broader temporary changes will allow businesses to work with the city through a new streamlined application process to make use of some sidewalk space to offer services outside, while maintaining space for physical distancing and following public health guidelines.
A date has yet to be set on when the broader temporary changes would end, as it will depend on the COVID-19 pandemic situation and provincial direction as well as the activity in the central area.
The planned broader temporary changes to sidewalks, vehicle lanes, and on-street parking were developed in collaboration with Peterborough Public Health and the Downtown Business Improvement Area. A map of the changes is provided below.downtown-concept-drawing
This story has been updated to indicate the side streets and intersections remain open during the weekend closure.