Owners anxious to welcome public

·2 min read

The end of Ontario’s stay-at-home order comes none too soon for Chatham-Kent’s entrepreneurs.

“Businesses have been very, very anxious to open again,” says Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce president Gail Hundt.

“Owners have got their ducks in a row and are ready with inventory” she says, but notes the Red-Control zone reopening means stringent rules will stay in place.

It remains to be been how well local business has weathered the COVID-19 storm, but Hundt says she’s watched owners and their employees “fight tooth and nail” to stay afloat.

That included pivoting to the Internet and social media, a brand new approach for many. But Hundt says it has taken off with many businesses seeing an increase in sales over pre-covid levels.

While the restaurant, hospitality and tourism industries have been hard hit, other businesses, such as hardware stores that sell items for home improvement projects have done very well in the pandemic.

“Some have fared much better than others,” Hundt explains.

Measures under the Red-Control designation are still tough but businesses can once again welcome the public. However, owners and managers are required to screen all employees and customers, whilst ensuring everyone stays at least 2 metres apart and wears proper PPE.

Proper Plexiglas barriers must also be maintained at public contact areas.

For those that continue to struggle, there’s good news. Hundt says another round of the Canada United program is being offered, which sees eligible business owners receive a $5,000 grant.

Hundt encourages everyone to take a look at available programs and incentives and “leave no stone unturned.

“Even if you don’t think you qualify, read the fine print,” she adds. “You might.”

Information about available programs can be found on the chamber’s website.

The Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce currently has 350 members.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald