Businesses exasperated with grey zone move
BARRIE -- Less than two weeks after the provincial stay-at-home order was lifted, businesses in Simcoe Muskoka are frustrated that they will once again face another lockdown as the region moves from a red to a grey zone.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner is concerned about the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the region. "We have a high concentration of our cases in Barrie. Barrie actually experienced a doubling of its overall COVID cases count, week on week, over a two-week period," he said.
The rules are slightly different in this lockdown. Schools and ski hills will be allowed to open; essential stores like grocery stores can open at 50 percent capacity and other retailers at 25 percent capacity. Bars and restaurants can only offer takeout, while personal care services must close.
Restaurant owners in Collingwood are growing frustrated by the flip-flopping rules. Tony Morew, Co-owner of the Huron Club, hoped the restrictions would be heading in the other direction.
"Going back to takeout-only is frustrating because we have been trying to survive on that for months now, and going back to the grey zone hurts. It's tough; we are trying to keep the hours open and survive, hoping we were going from red to orange, but we are going from red to grey again."
Stephen Walker, the owner of the 1858 Ceaser Bar, says the Medical Officer of Health should feel the financial pressures business owners do.
"I understand that experts are making their decisions; however, Charles Gardner, we looked at the sunshine list, makes in excess of 290,000 dollars a year. I would like him to be in my shoes where there's no income coming in."
Kayla Anderson works at the Best Little Hair House, which has already been closed down for six months.
"You can go to a dentist, you and go to a chiropractor. They are all one-on-one, as hands-on as we are."
Yoga Instructor Maegan Guse says instructors say it's harder and harder to keep clients on track. "Hard for everybody, and I think the hardest part is changes, and keeping up with the changes.
But small boutique retailers are relieved that they will be able to stay open with limited capacity this time. Melanie McBride with the Posh Shop, says local support has helped. "We are happy that we have loyal customers. Our doors are open. All we have to do is remain diligent and wait until this thing is over."
The new grey zone rules for Simcoe Muskoka come into effect at 12:01 Monday.