MORRISBURG, ONT. -- The Upper Canada Village is open for the season, offering pre-season tours to the public as the COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The first group walked through the gates at site in Morrisburg at 12 p.m. Thursday.

The village is considered a historic site, which is allowed to open under Step One of the province's Roadmap to Reopen plan, and the 90-minute tours are outside.

"It's guided tours of groups up to ten," said Sarah Edwards, Upper Canada Village site supervisor. "You go around the site with a costumed interpreter. You can see the outdoors of the buildings, the gardens and some of our animals are on site."

Masks are required when you go through the admissions area, visit washrooms or the store. Masks are optional when visitors are outside.

The pre-season normally begins in April, with the main summer season opening in May. They are two months behind schedule due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are opening on July 1 for our main season and our site is going to be still outdoors only," Edwards said. "All of the experience will take place outside, we'll have all of our village streets open and as many of our stuff as possible moved outdoors with different demonstrations and activities. You'll still be able to talk to all of them as you would coming in a normal year."

Upper Canada Village

The village is aiming to have indoor tours available when the province moves into Step Three of its reopening plan this summer.

"Those buildings are still going to have stuff in them, we're still going to have the doors open and you're still going to be able to talk to the people inside," said Edwards. "The only difference in stage three will be that visitors will be able to go inside rather than talking to people from the outside."

In 2020, the entire summer season was a guided tour through the village. This year, that will be different.

"Our main season will be a free flow walk around the site. So you'll purchase your ticket for a specific entry window, a 30 minute window. You can come in during that time," said Edwards.

"There's no time limit to how long you're spending on site and once you're inside, it's a free flow. Decide where you'd like to go around the village, which buildings, which stuff you'd like to talk to."

There are a limited number of tickets available for each day, and they can be purchased on the Upper Canada Village website. Pre-season tickets are $15 each.

"We're following every provincial safety protocol that there is. We're being very careful about the different things to do where masks are required. We've enhanced all of our cleaning protocols, particularly in our washrooms, and we're doing everything that we can to keep our staff and our visitors safe," Edwards said.

"We look forward to welcoming everybody back to our site this year," she added.  "We're very much looking forward to being open."