Local small business and restaurant owners were finally able to reopen this week after a provincial shutdown imposed on Boxing Day was lifted on Tuesday.
Ottawa-area businesses are allowed to reopen under the province’s Orange-Restrict zone regulations which allow for businesses to operate at 50 per cent capacity, while restaurants can allow indoor dining for up to 50 patrons as long as the tables are two metres apart.
The decision to enter the Orange-Restrict zone was made due to the fact that the weekly average of new cases has been below 40 for the past four weeks and the test positivity rate has been below 2.0 per cent since Feb. 3 – two of the benchmarks necessary under the province’s tiered system.
The 52-day shutdown has cost restaurants tens of thousands of dollars, despite still being able to offer takeout and delivery to their customers.
Caravela owner Fernando Diniz says his Innes Road establishment lost more than $2,000 this past weekend compared to Valentine’s Day weekend last year when they were full both Friday and Saturday night.
The story is much the same at other area restaurants that normally depend on their dine-in business to make ends meet.
On a more positive note, many restaurants, including Caravela, started taking reservations in anticipation of reopening almost as soon as Premier Doug Ford made the announcement.
Besides making sure that their tables are two metres apart – less if separated by an impermeable barrier – restaurants must limit seating to no more than four per table; alcohol cannot be served after 9 p.m. and they must be closed by 10 p.m.
Those regulations remain unchanged from when restaurants were allowed to reopen on November 7 after being forced to close on Oct. 10.
The return to the Orange-Restrict zone means that box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes and Canadian Tire can also reopen along with Place d’Orléans.
Churches are able to hold services at 30 per cent capacity up to maximum of 100 people, and gyms and fitness centres can reopen as long as they can limit spacing between patrons to three metres in areas where there are weights, or exercise equipment, and the total number of patrons in an exercise or fitness class does not exceed 10.
Inspired By Vanda owner Vanda Hadarean is especially thrilled she can start teaching classes in her gym again. She has been try-ing to make ends meet by selling fitness apparel for women and girls on her Face- book page. Being able to reopen and offer in-person classes again, even with limited spacing, is a godsend.
Elsewhere, hair salons and barbershops can also reopen under the Orange-Restrict protocols which include physical distancing and the mandatory use of face masks at all times. Organized indoor and outdoor sports and recreation activities can also resume this week with a limit of 25 people per activity. The City of Ottawa was expected to release a list of activities that will start up again once they can review the new rules.
Before the shutdown, residents could register for outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Lane swimming was also available at both the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex ans the François Dupuis Recreation Centre by reservation only. For the latest update on the city’s recreation programs, visit ottawa.ca/en/recreation-and-parks.