'We need to stay open in order to survive at this point,' Business owners reopen but remain frustrated
BARRIE, ONT. -- Many Simcoe County small businesses reopened Monday as the region returned to the red zone. Still, some owners say they need change to survive the ongoing pandemic pains.
The province recently amended the coloured zone restrictions to allow most small businesses to keep their doors open, but some say more needs to be done.
"It's been frustrating for sure," said Steve Ricalis, co-owner of downtown Barrie restaurant and pub, Donaleigh's. "We have St. Patty's coming up, and we're allowed 10 people inside our restaurant."
For an establishment that can hold up to 400 people, the capacity limit leaves hundreds of empty seats.
"It just doesn't make sense to our industry that we are limited to 10, 50 people," Ricalis said.
Demonstrations were held in Barrie over the weekend as protesters voiced their frustration over the way small businesses had been treated through the pandemic.
Pizza shop owner Stefano Agostino said he's pushing for the same rules set for big box stores.
"It's a big thing that we need to stay open in order to survive at this point. There's no such thing as any more shutdowns in our mind," he said.
Under the province's framework, the capacity limit for big-box retailers is 50 per cent.
During a lockdown, the limits reduce to 25 per cent for big box stores, while most small businesses must close to in-person and only offer curbside pickup and delivery.
The lockdown lifted at 12:01 a.m. Monday as Simcoe Muskoka returned to the red-control category under Ontario's COVID-19 framework.