Business owners react as the region heads back into the Red Zone
BARRIE -- Melissa Ferguson is thankful after hearing the province's decision to return Simcoe Muskoka to Ontario's COVID-19 framework's red zone.
The owner of Beauty and Babes salon in Barrie says the move, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, is a step in the right direction but believes a lot more needs to be done.
"I do think it needs to be addressed that this was an unjustified lockdown that very much discriminated very safe, very small businesses," she says.
But Ferguson isn't waiting until Monday to open her doors.
Under Ontario's provincial lockdown laws, film and television productions are allowed to continue operating. Ferguson says her clients have been used in training videos for her students and other staff.
However, she remains concerned with the steady change in the Ontario framework and believes she had no choice and didn't want to leave her business to chance.
"They seem to almost throw a dart at wheel every week," says Ferguson.
With the province's change to the red category, restaurants, bars, and other food establishments may open with a limited capacity of 10 people indoors and four per table.
It's a sign of relief for Tim Gallinger, the operations manager for Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Tavern.
"We are a unique business in the sense that we are a brewery first and tavern second, but it's certainly had a major impact," says Gallinger. "It's particularly tough on the people that work here that are trying to pay bills."
Retail stores will also be able to operate, but at fifty per cent capacity; a game-changer for Everleigh Gardens.
"People often spend hours and hours really checking out what they can find," says owner Sunny Jung, "it's hard to convey that online."
But despite the change in framework, more than 500 people are expected to take part in a peaceful rally scheduled for Saturday morning at Meridian Place, which Lauren Hardy says will bring attention to small business concerns.
"We got good news today that we are going back into red zone, but that is only one tiny step for us," says Hardy.
"We want to keep the momentum we have going and fight for other things. We want to fight for those small businesses to stay open in the grey zone as well."