Grand Bend, Ontario during COVID

Things have changed in the world…have you noticed? Covid has pretty much turned everything upside down, and I feel like I am adjusting daily. While trying to keep our family safe, we also strive to keep a sense of ‘normal’, and a good dose of ‘fun’. Without the ability to go to school or see her friends, it’s been tough to keep things positive around here.

Most recently, my husband has been busy building a deck at our house, which has meant he has been busy doing back-breaking labour, but family time was at an all-time low. So one weekend, when Chris had an extra Monday off, we decided to go for a drive to one of the best local beaches we know in Ontario: Grand Bend.

Beaches everywhere across Ontario only opened a week or 2 ago. They were shut down to visitors to avoid COVID transmission. As many regions across Ontario were permitted to open up to Phase 2, that meant beaches were a go! We cautiously ventured out to the beach on a Monday that would typically not be as busy as they would be on a weekend.

Perhaps the beach looks busy, but we found it’s really just the angle of the photo that is deceiving

Let me tell you, there’s not much I love more than a good beach. I’m not a person who enjoys tanning, per-say, but I love the heat (under the safety of a beach umbrella!), and I love the water. It’s soothing to me, and I find, in the summer especially, I crave it. Grand Bend, on Lake Erie, is one of the most beautiful beaches around. I hadn’t been there in years. So going to this beach in the middle of a world pandemic with our 5 year old child was a special, first time experience, I guess!

So when we got there, parking was easy. It was evident it was a less busy day than usual, but tourism was still booming in this popular Ontario beach town. Chris and I agreed, getting out of the car in Grand Bend was like stepping back in time, like COVID wasn’t a thing. Almost. Some people were wearing masks, but everyone was spread out enough that social distancing wasn’t a big concern. All of the stores and restaurants had directional markers, and plexi-glass covering all of the tills. The stores didn’t seem to be requiring masks, so we generally stayed away, but we did our part to stimulate the local economy by buying lunch at a local restaurant (which had a great take-out menu as well as booze to-go, which we didn’t take advantage of this time!). Once we hit the beach, it was a beautiful oasis that allowed us to just be a family and not worry about that crazy bug.

Despite some of the pictures and reports coming from the first open weekend of Grand Bend (I’ve heard they have since closed down part of the beach areas because of overcrowding https://www.narcity.com/news/ca/on/toronto/grand-bend-beach-was-slammed-with-people-this-canada-day-photos), we felt quite safe there on a quiet Monday, and people respected their distance. From those picture angles, sure, the beaches look slammed, but during our visit, we found everyone kept their distance and we had 0 concerns. We were able to easily access the beach, and make some great summer memories. I’m glad we went when we did, because I have a feeling many of these beaches are headed for a shut-down as more out-of-towners flock to the outdoors for the only summer escapes available at the moment. Keeping the tourists coming to these locations is both a blessing and a curse at this time, while businesses struggle through a raging pandemic.

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