A number of locally owned businesses have made the choice to shutter their doors in an effort to support a dramatic plea from public health.
Yesterday, the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) announced that due to several social gatherings and parties in recent weeks, the region has had a dramatic increase in cases and it has reached a critical threshold.
In a media release, Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for GBHU stated that the region had seen 70 confirmed cases in the last 36 hours, which are bound to generate hundreds of close contacts.
“We are asking the public to help. Everyone across Grey-Bruce needs to consider themselves a carrier for the next 48-hours until we reach all cases and their contacts. It is a priority that everyone stays at home except for essential travel,” Arra stated.
Without further direction from the health unit, many businesses in the county immediately announced they would be closing their doors in compliance with the ask.
“That's a big statement and if they're saying that everybody needs to stay at home, we just closed our doors so people aren't going to be here either,” said Dave Smith, owner and operator of the Thornbury Bakery Cafe.
By Thursday morning, several local businesses in Thornbury, Clarksburg and Meaford had announced their closure for the requested 48-hours, including the Market on Marsh, The Cheese Gallery the Bruce Wine Bar, Ashanti cafe, the Kitchen, and the Leeky Canoe.
Goldsmith's Farm Market and Bakery announced via Facebook they are staying open because they are a grocery store, but will have very limited in-store capacity, and are encouraging customers to shop online with curbside or delivery options. Delivery fees have been reduced to $2 for Thursday and Friday.
The move to voluntarily close their doors is in contrast to several businesses throughout the province that have defied direct orders from public health to close.
Smith said it was not an easy decision to make, especially in the shoulder season of April, which he says is already a difficult time for small businesses to keep revenues up.
“It's a tough decision, let me tell you, when you're a small business owner, especially in April around here, when revenue is hard to come by anyway,” Smith continued.
He added that this week has been particularly hard for his business because, for the first time during the pandemic, a few members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.
“We've had quite a week. A lot of the kids that were apparently at this party were some of our part-time employees,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, you can only control people when they're in the workplace.”
He explained that the employees that tested positive for COVID-19 had not been to work for two weeks but the cafe closed its doors anyway and proceeded to have all staff members tested, which all returned negative.
“We're just thankful that that wasn't something that was transmitted within the workplace,” he added.
As a small businesses owner, he said it is frustrating to see large corporately owned businesses operating like it is business as usual.
“Driving through the community this morning and all the major corporate players like Tim Hortons, New Orleans, Subway or McDonald's, they're all still open. All the small businesses in the area, they are listening,” he said.
After coping with the pandemic for over a year, local businesses have reported major reductions in revenue.
“Honestly, I would just love the roller coaster to end. We all need to do our part to try to make this thing go away as fast as possible,” Smith added.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca