Kenora residents and business owners have waited for this day since the Ontario government laid out the Roadmap to Reopen plan back on May 20, 2021.

Today marks the start of Step One of the province's re-opening plan. One of the most notable items on the list of the Step One plan is outdoor dining is allowed with a maximum of four people per table, which residents haven’t been able to do in months.

Pam Viinikka, owner of the Cornerstone, and her staff are very excited for the re-opening of outdoor dining and have been gearing up for the opening of the patio since the announcement was made on Monday.

“We are very excited to feel like we're all heading in the right direction and that things are going to seem a little bit more normal, it's definitely a positive. A positive move for hopefully a future full opening,” said Viinikka

“You open the patio and that's a step closer to opening the restaurant, and that's you know, our ultimate goal is to be back to business and being,” she added.

The Cornerstone, like a lot of businesses in the area, has had to adjust to different ways of conducting business in the way of doing curbside pick-up and take-out and are happy to see some familiar faces back at the restaurant.

The Cornerstone will not be taking any reservations. All COVID-19 measures will be followed as tables will be spaced six feet apart, a sign-in sheet will be available for customers, hand sanitizer will be provided and masks are to be worn unless sitting down at the table.

Non-essential businesses are also able to open to the public with a 15 per cent capacity. Bryan Gustafson, owner of Lake Of The Woods Sports Headquarters, is excited to finally let people back into the store.

“We're pumped up, man. We've been doing the curbside thing for it seems like forever now. And you know that worked well for us, but you know it was like doing pretty much twice the work for half the money for a long period of time,” noted Gustafson

Customers may see a little different of a set up once in the store, as Gustafson and his staff have done some renovations and re-configuring of the store.

“I think people are going to be blown away when they get to come in,” added Gustafson

LOTW Sports Headquarters has had to adjust to doing over-the-phone sales and curbside pick-up and had to install more phone lines to take on the number of callers wanting to make orders.

Gustafson did say that everyone he has talked to can’t wait to come back into the store.

The province will be in Step One of the province's roadmap to reopen for 21 days and Step Two is targeted to start on July 5, as long as 70 per cent of the population has one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 per cent of the population are fully immunized.