'We’re all just dealing with it day by day': Simcoe County businesses react to shutdown

·2 min read

The shutdown is a necessary evil.

Once Premier Doug Ford called for a partial shutdown the day before Easter weekend celebrations began, area businesses dove back into survival mode.

“Everyone is getting used to it and we’re fed up at the same time,” said Jay Schell, owner of Steelers Restaurant and Pub in Elmvale and president of the Elmvale BIA.

“We’re all just dealing with it day by day.”

The closure limits shopping to 50 per cent capacity in grocery stores and supermarkets, but places 100 per cent bans on indoor and outdoor dining. Takeout and delivery and drive-thrus are permitted.

Like many restaurants, Schell has had to lay off staff each time COVID-19 cases spike and the province goes into shutdown mode. As Ontario has cycled through red, grey and shutdowns repeatedly for the past year, Schell said he and other local businesses have lost up to 50 per cent of revenue.

“And then I speak to the health unit and I’m reminded how seriously ill people are. I get that we’re closed because people do take off their masks to eat,” he said.

In Thornton, Chris Monk stood in the empty Thornton Café and Ice Cream Parlor he owns with his wife, Debbie.

“We’re very slow,” Monk said. “We were feeling good when they allowed us to have indoor seating and the patio open.”

But once the “emergency brake” shutdown was instigated, Monk lost the walk-ins, as well as their catering gig at both Thornton and Angus arenas.

“That really added to our woes,” he said. “Now we’re waiting on cottage traffic. That should help.”

Farther north in Oro-Medonte, Manuel Gaspar at the Rock ‘n Garden Depot on Highway 11 said business is slowly beginning to pick up.

“We don’t control the customers, they control us, so we’ve definitely had our ups and downs this year,” Gaspar said.

As a landscaping business, the Rock ‘n Garden is considered an essential service and all sales are completed in the yard, he said.

“If we have nice weather on the May 24 weekend, we’ll do okay,” he said.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance