WINDSOR, ONT. -- Tuesday marks the first stage of the 're-start phase' towards re-opening Ontario’s economy and a slew of businesses from retail to recreation facilities are ramping back up after a months-long shutdown due to COVID-19.

“Oh I’m glad it’s opened! I’m glad we’re opening up. It feels so good,” says Kate Mussche, who went shopping with her family Tuesday.

But Mussche and many others have already noticed it’s not businesses as usual, with big differences at street-entrance retail stores designed specifically to allow the economy to reopen but consider safety as priority number one.

“It’s pretty odd and eerie, to tell you the truth. The roads are empty,” says Tracey Kell, who went shopping with her daughter. “You take a look at the parking lot, it’s empty and that but sometimes you just have to get out and get what you need.”

Paul Russell is the owner of Dead Parrott Records on Ottawa Street and he reopened his shop Tuesday after a six-week shut down.

“Everyone’s been really good so far, I’ve had some regulars come in everyone’s being sensible,” he says.

Russell installed a temporary protective screen at his cash, put hand sanitizer at the door and is wiping down all surfaces after each customer. He’s also limiting the number of shoppers at his record store to just three.

About a half-dozen stores at Windsor Crossing reopened Tuesday - most greeting customers with a splash of sanitizer and a brief session on new rules.

Tootsie’s Factory Shoe Market also has a two-metre physical distancing rule, is only permitting five customers in the store at once, and is asking customers not to touch merchandise unless absolutely necessary.

“That’s different - it’s a whole new experience, but I guess this is what we’re going to have to do, isn’t it?” remarks Mussche.

Some Clothing retailers - like Guess - are steaming clothes after every fitting. Other shops, like Reitman’s remained closed while they transition from housing a distribution centre - back to a retail shop. They plan to fully reopen next week.

Amour Fragrance and Beauty Boutique has been doing online and curb-side pickups throughout the closure, but is happy to return to some semblance of normalcy - with an abundance of caution.

“I guess I am like a traffic cop,” notes Selina Al-Mazzal, an associate at the shop.”I have to ensure to keep myself and also the customers safety as my first priority.”

Also getting back to work this week are:

  • Vehicle dealerships and retailers
  • Libraries for pick-up or delivery
  • Veterinary services like grooming and training
  • General maintenance and repair services
  • At-home services like nannies, cooks, cleaning services

Many individual sports will also get back into full swing, including tennis, golf and cycling tracks.