As the city of Ottawa wraps up its first weekend back in the orange zone, residents and businesses are preparing to make the same move in Gatineau.
Restaurants, gyms and other businesses will be reopening in the Outaouais on Monday for the first time in months. The Outaouais region moves back to orange on Monday after being in the red zone since Oct. 11.
The new restrictions include the curfew beginning 90 minutes later at 9:30 p.m., indoor dining will be allowed again with a limit of two adults per table, and gyms will open again too.
"It’s not going to be easy; you have to find people in one family, you have to ask, you have to clean after each customer, but we’ll do it, we did it, and we’re going to do it," said Fatima Semlali, owner of Chez Fatima.
Preparations are underway at her Hull restaurant to reopen this week, but she remains cautious, worried another lockdown could come anytime.
"That’s my worst nightmare," Semlali said. "Because we’re motivated, but we’re tired at the same time, you wake up and sometimes you don’t feel like working anymore."
Meanwhile across the river in Ottawa, non-essential businesses are once again open.
The Mayfair Theatre wrapping up its first weekend screening films again.
"It’s just nice to be back, and we hope we can stay back for the next little while," said Joshua Stafford, owner of the Mayfair.
"A little step back towards normal hopefully, it’s a very nice feeling."
This comes as theatres across Quebec will reopen too during March Break, but those in red zones won’t be allowed to serve popcorn.
"I can’t imagine being back without that. That’s what people have been most excited about almost, like on social media, people are so excited to get back, have a bag of popcorn and sit in the cinema,” said Stafford.
As our region prepares for its first full week under eased restrictions on both sides of the Ottawa River in months, some experts are urging caution.
"We just have to keep our contacts to a minimum, we have to continue as if we were still in a lockdown," said Dr. Ronald St. John, former federal manager to the SARS response in Canada.
According to both provinces, non-essential travel between provinces still is not recommended.