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More New Tecumseth businesses could close permanently under Stage 2

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

York Region joined Toronto, Peel and Ottawa in reverting back to a modified Stage 2 reopening on Monday and the New Tecumseth business community has concerns if Simcoe Muskoka follows suit.

The stricter public health measures will be in effect for a minimum 28 days and prohibit indoor dining, personal care services where face coverings must be removed, gyms and fitness centres.

Five New Tecumseth businesses have closed permanently due to the initial shut down of all “non-essential” services in late March and several more could join them if Simcoe Muskoka is forced back into a Stage 2 lockdown.

“Reverting back to Stage 2 would have a drastic effect on not only our restaurants but also our retailers because one drives the other and brings people to Town to spend their hard-earned money,” said Mike Jerry, Alliston Business Improvement Association (ABIA) Chair. “We’re already handcuffed with the change in the weather… our patio program had stopped last weekend as well.”

Tottenham Beeton District Chamber of Commerce (TBDCC) acting President Robyn Caruana said their members are facing a similar situation, it’s “buy local or bye-bye local.”

“We have businesses where, if we’re not buying local over the next couple of months they are going to be gone,” Caruana stressed.

“We’ve been working very hard through the first wave with the BIA as well in really trying to get our businesses online that aren’t online, especially in case the second wave happens [to increase] entering the Christmas season, which is typically the busiest time for a lot of these businesses.”

One of the concerns among TBDCC members is having residents from COVID-19 hotspots, such as York or Peel, visiting the community to access services and spreading the virus.

A local hairdresser said she’s going to put a sign on her door stating they will turn away clients who aren’t local. However, this can be difficult to enforce, according to Caruana.

As well, some of the businesses who are scraping by say they’ll take any business they can get.

“There’s very mixed feelings around ‘I need the money’ versus ‘I don’t want to bring COVID into our community,’” Caruana said. “There are people who don’t want to see their business sink and they need the revenue 100 per cent but don’t want to be the one’s that are responsible for spreading it [locally].”

“It’s such a predicament because nobody really knows what the right thing to do is,” she added.

Balancing the financial wellbeing of one’s family with the wellbeing of the community is an impossible task, Caruana noted.

In terms of outside visitors spreading COVID-19 locally, Jerry told the Times ABIA store owners will be on guard for anyone with symptoms and hopes if outsiders come, they exercise common sense.

“Hopefully the people from York that are coming here are good human beings and care for their fellow man. We just want them to be Canadian and do the right thing.” he noted.

Jerry said the Simcoe Muskoka community is very different from Toronto, the GTA, and York Region in the way people conduct themselves with regards to the pandemic, which could be the difference in staying under a Stage 3 reopening.

“I call it the Highway 9 factor; people are more humanitarian towards their fellow residents here than they are down in the city,” he said.

Jerry said the ABIA’s message during this time is “shop safe, shop Alliston,” due to its low to non existent rates of COVID-19. All retailers require masks, social distancing, limit the number of customers within stores and refuse service to those who won’t follow the guidelines.

If businesses are forced to close due to a lack of revenue, not only does that impact the owners’ families but also their employees and any charities they support through sponsorships or donations, Jerry noted.

“It’s a real spiral effect if we lose more businesses,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Small Business Week is running October 18 – 24 and the TBDCC is celebrating by interviewing local business owners about their story.

“What I’m really trying to focus on is the people, the family, the space, behind the business because when you know somebody’s story, when you sort of meet the people behind the scenes, you tend to want to support them more,” Caruana said.

“I hope through doing this over the next couple weeks, into the Christmas season, that people will stay local, support local, shop local, at least to try to keep our businesses afloat until this is beyond us.”

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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