Outdoor businesses argue they could open safely as province extends closure
Stay-at-home order and restrictions on outdoor recreation extended to June 2
Under a bright May sun, Martin Patterson stands alone on a perfectly manicured golf course green, having just learned that he won't be able to welcome back customers for at least another two weeks.
On Thursday, the Ontario government announced it would be extending the stay-at-home order, which began in April and includes restrictions on outdoor recreation, until June 2 in order to lower cases of COVID-19 in the province.
"[I'm] a little disappointed if you ask me, and it's unfortunate that we are in this," said Patterson, the general manager at Emerald Links, Anderson Links and Cloverdale Links in Ottawa.
"I was expecting to be able to play golf a little bit earlier."
Patterson said his customers have been "anxious" to get out on the links, and like many others across the province, believes golf courses could open safely during the order.
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He said there have been no cases of COVID-19 among either staff or players, and that golfing offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while staying safely distanced.
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario is extending the Stay-at-Home Order until at least June 2, 2021. <br><br>All <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PublicHealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PublicHealth</a> measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect. <a href="https://t.co/lDaqnlPZJ7">https://t.co/lDaqnlPZJ7</a> <a href="https://t.co/V8GHYGkBuX">pic.twitter.com/V8GHYGkBuX</a>—@ONThealth
Patterson said his company may have to look into refunding members if the shutdown continues for much longer. Right now, membership money is going toward maintaining the courses, even if golfers haven't been able to use them.
"We're doing our best. We're rationing a lot of things, but we're trying to make the best of it," he said.
"Hopefully we can maintain this as long as we can, but it'll come to an end at some point in time."
Dozens of reservations cancelled
Thursday's announcement also pauses the beginning of boating season in Ontario.
Mid-May is normally busy times for boating companies as they prepare for the long weekend, said Sterling Bown, owner of Freedom Boat Club in Ottawa.
Bown's business had 30 reservations lined up for that weekend, all of which now need to be cancelled. He said the shutdown also has an impact on staff, who are now going another two weeks without work.
"Some of them are university students, which of course, use the summer jobs to pay their tuition and other things," he said.
Bown said while he's committed to listening to health authorities, he believes that like golf, boating can be done safely, by limiting members of one household to a boat and by enhancing sanitizing measures.
Given the seasonal nature of his business, Bown said he's hopeful outdoor recreation will resume in June, something Premier Doug Ford has also expressed optimism about.
"If we were to be talking about this to be extended for another month past that into July, that would really cause, I think, a problem for our business. And not just our business, but a lot of businesses," he said.
With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day