Nfld. & Labrador

Alert Level 2 businesses get ready to open, some quicker than others

With less than a week until Alert Level 2 is set to start, more businesses that were ordered to close three months ago are preparing to open, some quicker than others.

Businesses scrambling to find additional revenue with reduced capacity

Black Sheep owners Valerie Hewitt and Don Maher have had a tough first year of business after Snowmageddon and the pandemic. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

With less than a week until a planned move to Alert Level 2, businesses ordered to close three months ago are preparing to reopen — though some will be up and running quicker than others.

If all things go according to plan, June 25 will mark one of the final stages of reopening the province.

But some businesses won't be rushing it.

"We are excited to reopen but we are not ready for next Thursday," said Jill Holden, owner of Modo Yoga in St. John's. 

"The reason being we want to make sure when we reopen we are doing it in the safest way possible."

Is it sustainable to go through this again as a business? The answer is I don't want to find out.- Jill Holden

Holden said she's trying to get additional supplies such as cleaning products, gloves and masks. She's also mapping out the  yoga room to create as much room for physical distancing as possible.

"I am never in a hurry to do anything," she said. "Part of our practice is slowing down, so [we're] really embodying that even through this reopening process so it's done with the benefit of the whole community."

Like other business operators, Holden is also trying to find other ways to maximize her revenue while abiding by provincial guidelines that have made her reduce the capacity in her studio.

Modo Yoga owner Jill Holden says her business will not be ready to reopen next Thursday as part of Alert Level 2. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

She plans to continue with the virtual classes she's been running for the past few months, and also teaching yoga outdoors to increase her class sizes, but she's looking forward to one day being back at full capacity.

"For the summer as we get going we will make it work but it is definitely not sustainable long term," she said.

Businesses hit hard

Meanwhile, the co-owners of the Black Sheep, a bar on George Street, are eager to open their doors to customers next Thursday.

They've  been in business at that location only since last April, and said it feels like they're reopening again just a year later.

With Snowmageddon and now COVID-19, it's been a challenging first year of business but they're looking forward to seeing their clients and musicians once again.

"It's been a long time waiting," said Valerie Hewitt. "We are really hoping the worst is behind us."

They are also trying to get creative in order to make more money, again with a reduced capacity. They plan to open earlier, work longer hours and attach a patio for more seating room.

"We are scrambling to get as much done as we can," said Don Maher.

No guidelines

Both businesses are waiting for the provincial government to announce safety guidelines.

Holden said she has been in contact with the province and expects to get some soon. In the meantime, she has been looking at what yoga studios in other provinces have been doing.

Gyms will also be able to reopen in Alert Level 2. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

CBC News contacted the City of St. John's for clarification on the guidelines and rules for reopening pools and recreational centres, but the city wouldn't do an interview.

In a statement, the city said it will "depend on the guidelines and physical distancing requirements that are provided by the province."

Second wave concerns

As businesses start to open their doors, epidemiologists are also bracing for what they call an inevitable second wave of COVID-19.

Hewitt said they'll have to wait to find out what happens, and will comply with government's orders — even if that means closing again.

"If we have to do it, whatever, and it's not like we are in it alone. Everybody else is in the same boat," she said.

The thought of having to close a second time has also come across Holden's mind.

"Is it sustainable to go through this again as a business? The answer is, I don't want to find out."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 


Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, based in St. John's. Email her at


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