Island businesses celebrate restrictions easing ahead of holidays, others say it's too late

·2 min read

Some Islands businesses are celebrating the province's circuit breaker restrictions lifting early, while others say their window of opportunity has closed.

P.E.I. implemented sweeping restrictions Dec. 7 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. That included closing in-room dining, gyms and libraries and eliminating personal gatherings and things like craft fairs.

Measures were supposed to stay in place until Monday but the province decided to lift restrictions early — with some limits. Restaurants are reduced to 50 per cent capacity and must close by 11 p.m.

"It's tough to … essentially shut your doors, especially during December, which is generally a lift for small businesses across P.E.I.," said Lone Oak Brewing CEO Jared Murphy.

"I think we all just have to keep in mind that these restrictions are being put in place for the greater good, for the health and safety of Islanders, and that if they weren't put in place, it could be a lot longer and a lot worse."

The brewery reopened its taproom and restaurant Friday. Murphy said they will have live music and eventually get back to hosting trivia night in person.

"Even having this weekend will have a very positive impact on our business," he said. "We'll all be able to survive this."

'Every day counts'

For Kettle Black owner Osama Abdoh, the news of restrictions lifting early was good. He said staff members were also happy to get back to work and see customers.

"Every day counts, especially during this season," he said.

"I think it was the right decision to close initially and equally it's the right decision to come back ... it's definitely a great help to have a science-based decision."

But for some, the restrictions are lifting too late to reap the benefits of the holiday season. Charlottetown's Victorian Christmas Market was supposed to run the last weekend of November, while the Charlottetown Farmers' Market Artisan Market was scheduled for last Sunday.

Both events were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Nicole Williams/CBC
Nicole Williams/CBC

"Those were big losses to the craft community," said Ayelet Stewart, executive director of the P.E.I. Craft Council.

"People had prepared stuff, they bought materials and they're now sitting on stock. So I'm not sure it's going to make much of a difference for the crafters."

Stewart said despite the loss of holiday sale opportunities, she sees more Islanders making a concerted effort to buy local.

"Locals have definitely stepped up to the plate. They've been buying local, they're aware, they are making a point of coming in," Stewart said.

Both Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison have said the plan was to "plug back in" slowly after the circuit breaker.

The new restrictions are in place until Jan. 11.

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