Many Ontario businesses are gearing up to reopen with certain limitations after a frustrating period of evolving pandemic restrictions affecting retailers and services deemed non-essential.
As the province enters the first step of its three-step reopening plan on Friday, some owners say they have had to take an innovative approach to survive and once again serve their customers in person.
Debrah Menashy, owner of Loft Cycle Club Inc. in Toronto, will launch outdoor spinning classes, which will be limited to nine riders and will take place in a parking lot near the city’s Broadview and Danforth avenues.
“This way of training required creativity and money,” she said, including the cost of renting a parking lot and setting up a storage container for them. bikes, as well as the purchase of wireless headphones, “so the whole neighborhood doesn’t have to hear every class.”
“[It’s been] almost 16 months without being able to function, we are so excited to be out and do something, ”she said while testing the equipment this week.
Scott MacKillop, owner of Barely Bruised Books in Ottawa, is also set to reopen and recalled the many sacrifices he made during lockdowns that were imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The store had to cancel its open mic night of poetry, live music, an aboriginal book club called All Nations, and its philosophy group meetings.
One of the biggest issues was setting up a new website to sell the used books from the online store. MacKillop said he spent over $ 33,000 trying to stay in business, without generating much income in return.
“I have spent all my savings,” he said.
Bars and restaurants in Toronto and other Ontario hot spots suffered a whiplash in late March when terraces were allowed to reopen – only to be forced to close again days later.
The first step in the province’s plan to reopen means non-essential retail stores will be able to reopen at 15% capacity. The plan also comes with other conditions:
- Only stores with street access can accommodate customers inside.
- Stores inside shopping centers must remain closed.
- Outdoor terrace service will be authorized for a maximum of four people per table, unless they are from the same household.
- Group exercises and children’s day camps can also resume.
Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, calls on people to pressure the provincial government to “immediately open other low-risk businesses” such as hair salons and manicure.
These businesses will not be allowed to reopen until Stage 2 of the plan, which is expected to go into effect in early July.
In a tweet Thursday, Kelly said the province should also allow stores to open in malls, as other jurisdictions in Canada have done. He also said that “the world’s longest lockdown needs a quicker end.”
And let’s all pressure @fordnation to immediately open other low-risk businesses, including allowing stores to open in shopping malls (as is the case in the rest of Canada), hair / nail salons, and certain gym / recreational activities . The world’s longest lockdown needs a quicker end.
At least one medical expert says companies may now be able to escape the trend of one lockdown after another.
“The big difference is that we have vaccines,” said epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “We don’t have a fully vaccinated population yet, but we do have a lot of people with at least one dose of the vaccine.
“And that’s a really important mitigation tool. It helps reduce transmission.”