Hospitality industry, ski hills retool in red COVID restriction zone
COLLINGWOOD, ONT. -- Simcoe Muskoka's hospitality industry is bracing for new red zone restrictions as local cases of coronavirus soar.
The changes under Ontario's COVID-19 response framework take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
Occupancy at bars and restaurants is limited to ten customers. While there are caps for outdoor dining, those spaces can remain open. Take out, drive-through, and delivery for food and alcohol is permitted.
The rules hit hard in Collingwood, a tourist destination where bars and restaurants are part of the community's fabric. Stephen Walker, the owner of 1858 Caesar Bar, expects challenging times ahead.
"As a restaurateur, there's no doubt I feel for everybody in the hospitality industry. It's difficult for everybody."
The changes come just as many businesses were ramping up for the holidays.
Walker says there are 15 jobs on the line at his place downtown.
"We have to look at our business model now and restructure it so we can keep these young people employed."
Walker plans to focus on retail and takeout while restrictions are in place.
The ski industry is also trying to adapt to what will be the new normal this winter.
Jonathan Reid, the general manager at Horseshoe Resort, says guidelines set by the health unit will allow them to continue operating, but all customer services will be outside this winter.
Reid says major investments in washroom trailers and containers for rentals have been made to ensure a day on this slopes is a safe one.
Other red zone rules include:
- Cinemas and performing arts centres cosed
- Public gatherings limited to five people indoors, 25 outdoors
- Retailers must screen clients and manage lineups
- Sports and recreation facilities can have no more than 10 people inside, 25 outside
Individuals are being urged to stay home and avoid unnecessary outings. Red zone restrictions will remain in place for at least 28 days.