On May 20, 2021, the Ontario Government announced a province-wide Roadmap to Reopen.
The announcement details are here.
Throughout the pandemic, the members of Ottawa’s 19 BIAs have adhered to Ontario’s restrictions and public health measures. Ongoing and changing restrictions have generated a tremendous amount of uncertainty and extreme revenue loss.
Everyone recognizes the need to ensure a safe re-opening and that all metrics should be considered including vaccinations, new cases, and hospitalizations. An implemented framework based on data makes absolute sense over arbitrary dates.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES WITH ONTARIO’S NEW ROADMAP TO REOPEN?
1.The Roadmap to Reopen is province-wide, not regional.
It is vital that we appreciate important regional differences. Ontario has moved away from the original Public Health Unit framework which means that benchmarks for vaccinations, cases, and hospitalizations must trend for a population of almost 15 million people provincewide. We are concerned that as national capital region shows improvement in the key indicators that would normally lead to a re-opening, this could be negatively impacted by scenarios in other regions. Further, with the province of Quebec looking to reopen for business at the end of May, we are concerned about the additional impact this will have Ottawa’s hardest hit sectors that will remain closed.
We need to return to regional health care framework in the roadmap timelines.
2.Ontario’s Small Business Support Grant should be reinstated.
Businesses continue to be operating under restrictions that have had a crippling effect on their revenue stream. Reopening the grant to accept applications and provide needed funding to small businesses will help our merchants and local economies survive.
We need to add more funds to the small business grant and support businesses until they are fully reopened.
3. Move Masked Salon Services to Stage 1.
We have seen the data. One of the hardest hit sectors is licensed and follow all the safety protocols. Mask- wearing, sanitizing, and contact-tracing are all practices these businesses implement but they cannot open until July (stage 2) – not even at a reduced capacity.
Put masked salon services in stage 1 and consider other sectors that could operate masked and with strict public health measures.