(Submitted by Paula Whitelocke)
With the provincewide stay-at-home order lifting in Ottawa and nearby communities next week, local businesses are approaching the reopening with cautious optimism.
Starting Tuesday, businesses including restaurants, gyms and salons will be allowed to welcome customers, with some ongoing restrictions. The news came as a relief to many business owners who've had to keep their doors closed since late December.
"We have 12 weeks of catching up to do," said Paula Whitelocke, owner of Curly Hair Designs, an Ottawa salon.
Whitelocke said she and her staff are now busy rearranging appointments, but will be "a little bit more restrictive with the bookings" going forward.
"I don't think that we'll be booking out any further than two months at a time, so that if this is to happen again, I'm not in a position where I have four months of catching up to do," she said. "Otherwise, I'm just ... really relieved, to be honest. Just really relieved that we can get back to it."
Reopening a 'balancing act'
That possibility of yet another shutdown is looming over many businesses, especially with the emergence of new, more contagious coronavirus variants.
Lauri Moussa, executive director of the Kanata Central Business Improvement Area, said many of her members see that as a very real possibility.
"With a possible third wave, that is in their back mind, that this could possibly be temporary," she said. "They're opening cautiously and taking all precautions necessary in order to ensure that doesn't happen in our area."
Sarah Chown, owner of Metropolitain Brasserie and Ottawa regional chair of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association, said many in her sector are teetering on the edge.
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"I'm certainly not paying the bills with just takeout for the long stretch. If this goes on much longer ... some places [won't] do very well at that," she said.
Chown said with so much uncertainty, it's possible some businesses may choose to remain closed.
"It is definitely a balancing act for many, I'm sure, and I think you'll see some people probably won't open on Tuesday."