After a week of being put back into grey-lockdown, local business owners were overjoyed to receive news on Friday that Simcoe-Muskoka would be returning back to the red zone on Monday.
Businesses had a brief ‘reopening’ in mid-February but were quickly shut down after two weeks in the red zone. The decision to move to grey came at the recommendation of the region's top doc, Dr. Charles Gardner, over concerns of the high presence of the U.K. variant.
Many residents and business owners spoke out against the recent lockdown calling on their local elected officials through letters, emails, and social media posts.
“It is annoying to keep switching from open to closed, especially as we continue to turn away people wanting to dine-in daily.
"A couple of weeks ago it was a challenge to get all of our old clients back to dine-in as many did not know that we were open. And now with the closure of this past week and reopening of next week, it will make people even more confused!” shares Juan Velazquez, owner of Hacienda Santa Teresa Mexican restaurant who delayed their reopening to complete last-minute changes to accommodate the 10-guest limit for indoor dining.
“At the end of the day, we are happy to be able to welcome guests again, as well as some employees who we had to temporarily lay off during this recent lockdown.”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams is still urging residents and business owners to “remain vigilant” while in the red zone and to continue to take precautions, as numbers of the new B.1.1.7 UK variant continue to remain active and high in the region.
In the red zone, gyms, hair salons, religious institutions, and restaurants may open up to the public again, but with certain restrictions and limited capacities.
“It is good news and I am glad to see the region go back into the 'Red-Control' zone,” said Bradford Mayor Rob Keffer. “It was unfair that our small businesses that have always followed proper safety protocols were being hardest hit. We still have to be vigilant but hopefully, we can soon see even further reductions in restrictions for our small businesses.”
“We hope to only move forward from now on and no more backwards,” states Velazquez. “The next challenge is the ridiculous 10-person limit for restaurants that can fit over 100 people normally, but that’s another story!”
“Upwards and onwards,” adds Eric Fex, part-owner of Don Cherry’s Sports Bar in Bradford. “Let’s move on into Orange next week!”