TECUMSEH, ONT. -- The Town of Tecumseh has reopened its town hall, recreation complex and arena for limited services on a part-time basis for the next two weeks.

It will still be nearly two months before any in-person council meetings could be considered.

“It is a gradual approach, recognizing that we’re still in Step 3,” says Chief Administrative Officer Margaret Misek-Evans.

Evans says afternoon only hours will last through August 13, with plans to return to regular business hours on August 16.

She says individuals seeking to attend town hall or the arena in-person must complete the screening form prior to being allowed entry. Masks will be required for all visitors in the buildings and appointments are required for specific services, so it is best to call ahead.

“We want to make sure that all of our systems and checks are in place to protect both the public and our staff,” Evans says.

“I think we’re still hearing a lot of information about a potential fourth wave and being very vaccination-dependant, so we have to monitor that and see when it’s safe to have a return to public participation in the audience.”

“We are very pleased to resume in-person services and welcome visitors to our newly renovated Town Hall,” said Gary McNamara, Mayor of Tecumseh. “I thank residents for their patience and understanding while the buildings were closed to the public.”

McNamara tells CTV News Windsor a staff report on resuming in-person council meetings is expected in September, with the possibility of elected officials and administration returning to council chambers by October.

“That’s really the beginning of it,” McNamara says. “It really depends on the public health measures and the numbers continuing to be reduced.”

McNamara adds the customer service capabilities in the renovated town hall are “huge” in comparison to the former town hall, but notes staff and community safety take precedence.

“Seeing bored faces on a screen isn’t quite the same as seeing bored faces in person.”

University of Windsor political science professor Lydia Miljan believes a return to in-person council meetings should happen -- and the sooner, the better.

“Given our high vaccination rates, the news that I see is that the only people who are getting hospitalized are those who haven’t been vaccinated.”

Miljan says in-person council meetings symbolically demonstrate to communities that there’s a way forward but also tangibly shows it can be done safely, with accountability.

“We can’t have it both ways,” Miljan explains. “You can’t tell the public get vaccinated and then say, 'Oh now that your vaccinated, we’re going to have all these restrictions perpetually.' I think that sends a bad message.”

Miljan adds in-person accountability is important for democracy, “A free country has to be open and it has to be face-to-face.”