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Monday, December 6, 2021

Coronavirus: Kingston prepares for out-of-town visitors as businesses reopen

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The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health region was officially lifted into the green zone on Wednesday, marking an important turning point for small businesses.

Only three regions in the province were granted green status this week: KFL&A, Hastings Prince Edward, and Renfrew County. The rest of the province remains in the red zone, and other public health regions will be moving into the green later in the month.

This shift begs the question: will Kingston see out-of-town visitors try to come to the city and take advantage of its green status?

“We don’t anticipate it being any different than other times in the past when we were green and other communities weren’t,” says Krista LeClair, executive director for Kingston Accommodation Partners.

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“There was no time when there was a huge influx of leisure travellers — that’s not what people have been told to do, and it’s not what we’re seeing.”

There are some hotels and bed and breakfasts that have received booking calls from hopeful vacationers who come from Ottawa or Toronto, and there are some who haven’t received any calls at all.

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It appears, for the most part, that people aren’t rushing to Kingston for a weekend vacation or personal appointments.

But if that were to happen, businesses are prepared.

“We’ve implemented a new 14-day question,” says Steve Wallace, owner of Luce Hair Studio.

“If you have been in the red zone over the last 14 days, we’re going to ask you to wait to book your appointment for 14 days, or re-book after a 14-day quarantine if you’ve been in a red zone.”

It can be difficult to determine where a person is from based solely on their phone number area code or driver’s licence address. They could be a post-secondary student, or they could be keeping an old phone number.

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KFL&A spokesperson Suzette Taggart says Kingston’s medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore isn’t going to be implementing travel restrictions or ID checks just yet. She says he is putting his trust in businesses and the public to act responsibly and take the proper measures to ensure everyone’s safety.

And it appears that businesses are taking that direction seriously.

“I think it’s an honour thing,” says Lou Petrie, owner of Echo hair salon.

“We ask people where they’re from before they book with us, and we trust them to answer truthfully.”

There are currently no fines for serving out-of-town customers in the KFL&A region. But in Hastings Prince Edward, businesses can be fined up to $5,000 per day for serving customers who live in red zone areas.

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